The Tennessee Bluegrass Band has one distinction going for it right off: This excellent quintet has two Lincolns: Lincoln Hensley on banjo and occasional guitar and Lincoln Mash on bass and lead vocals.
Fortunately, there’s a whole lot more that sets this ensemble apart. Produced by Jerry Salley, The Future of the Past has a wonderfully crisp and sparkling traditional feel informed by top-flight musicianship and imaginative song choices.
“Hillbilly Blues” (penned by Paul Brewster) is the delightfully swingy, tongue-in-cheek lament of a hapless fellow who can’t escape his chronic state of heartache and misery.
“Letters Have No Arms,” an Ernest Tubb oldie, is presented here as a loping honky-tonk-bluegrass plaint that similarly hits the mark and features one of many fine outings by principal lead vocalist Lincoln Mash.
Yet another standout is “Tall Weeds And Rust,” penned by Tom T. and Dixie Hall along with Don Rigsby. This powerful ballad testifies to the grief of losing one’s rural heritage, tree by tree, building by building, to bulldozers and so-called progress.
Similarly moving is “Kentucky Sun Going Down” (Chuck Haney and Allen Haney). This a lovelorn ode about longing to return to the beloved “Bluegrass State” and the old home place and true love that await there.
“Leslie County Blues” (Sonny Osborne/Lincoln Hensley) is a fiery and emotionally nuanced instrumental featuring some extraordinary picking. The band really mellows out on “Angels Watching Me” (Vickie Austin), a lovely come-to-Jesus celebration that features some thrilling old-time gospel quartet-style vocal arrangements around a sweet lead vocal by Aynsley Porchak, the band’s fiddler extraordinaire.