This veteran New Mexico-based trio brings a captivating Southwestern perspective to its bluegrass and fleshes it out with some sophisticated songwriting and spirited picking and singing.
The southwestern flavor shines through vividly on cuts like the nostalgic story-song “Weary Cowboy,” a rollicking cover of Guy Clark’s and Verlon Thompson’s “Hurricane Time In Texas” and “Adobe And Dust,” an exquisite instrumental penned by singer-mandolin-guitar player Steve Smith.
Singer-upright bass player Anne Luna takes an admirable turn on her original, “Able.”
It’s Chris Sanders (guitar and vocals) who emerges as The Hard Road Trio’s principal songwriter and singer. Her lovely “Grandma’s Pearls” is an eloquent ballad about finding strength and personal identity in family legacy.
Just as stirring is “Mama Spin Me Round,” Sander’s heartbreaking ballad of hard times and tragedy. Her “Ojos De Dios” (cowritten with Smith) packs similar emotion and melancholy mystery.
Credit is also due to Nick Coventry (fiddle), Nate Lee (fiddle), Eric Boseman (percussion), Tim May (Dobro) and Aaron Youngberg (steel guitar), five of the trio’s equally accomplished fellow musicians who joined them on this studio project.