Jesse Brock, winner of the 2009 and 2015 IBMA “Mandolin Performer of the Year” awards, burst on to the scene while he was still just a kid. Since then, he has performed with numerous bands, including the CW Brock Family, the Lynn Morris Band, Chris Jones and the Night Drivers, Audie Blaylock and Redline and the Gibson Brothers.
Streamliner is only Brock’s second solo album, and it was two years in the making. On it, he’s assembled an incredibly talented and impeccably credentialed team of top-flight musicians. The pickers include Greg Blake (lead vocals and guitar), Russell Carson (banjo), Josh Swift (resophonic guitar), Barry Reed (bass), Jesse and Felicia Mikels (harmony vocals), along with Jason Carter (fiddle and vocals), Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (fiddle), Rob Ickes (resophonic guitar), Ron Block (banjo) and Dale Perry (bass vocals).
The end result of this labor of love is a masterful album that contains all the essential elements: a stylistically varied and provocative collection of songs, exquisite instrumental teamwork and spot-on vocal arrangements. These elements come into particularly sharp focus on the starkly melancholy “Kiss On A Cold, Cold Stone,” penned by Louisa Branscomb and Geri Byrd. (Check out the great video, if you get a chance.)
The very same magic sparkles on every cut, including the sardonic “Black Rock City” (Mark Brinkman and Aaron Bibelhauser) and a reprise of “Nobody Loves Me,” a mournful oldie written and originally popularized by Zeke (“The Dixie Yodeler”) Clements back in the mid-1940’s. Likewise, with the nostalgic title tune (written by Brock) and a sprightly revival of Bill Monroe’s monumental breakdown, “Big Mon.”
Brock is, hands-down, a stellar mandolin player, in terms of both technique and soulfulness. Yet throughout, he remains the team player, consistently subsuming his awesome chops to the greater good of the song, and the greater good of this really fine project.