The revisiting of older material, much of it traditional, is a theme for several projects this year. This concept album from Jimmie Dale Gilmore and the Wronglers, (the name is a play on a popular dungaree company name) is another project that goes backward to come forward. Anyone who has listened to real country music in the past decades will recognize most, if not all, of the material here. From Bob Wills to Charlie Poole to Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe, and the Carter Family, we are treated to a catalog of wonderful old songs that still get played, because they are that good.
For those not familiar with Gilmore, his unique voice fills the songs as his distinctive voice wavers through the well-known lyrics. The band behind him, under the musical direction of Heidi Clare (former fiddler for the Reeltime Travelers), is a kind of old-time orchestra with a full chorus akin to those found on folk albums. The clawhammer banjo and swooping fiddles of Heidi Clare and Krista Martin ornament the music like drapes rustling in a musical breeze. The band sounds old-time and does a nice job of laying down a lush backdrop for Gilmore.
If you cherish the old songs sung with heart and tasteful acoustic arrangements that are not old-time but are decidedly country, this project will fit the bill. This recording is reminiscent of the large cast cuts found on the original Will The Circle Be Unbroken project by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in the early 1970s, sans the bluegrass drive. Here, they catch the old-time aspects of this music and make the most of the large band to provide a rich layer of sound to surround Gilmore’s vocals. (www.thewronglers.com.) RCB