This is the golden age of bluegrass songwriting. Not that many years ago, you could name every bluegrass songwriter worth hearing. Thomm Jutz has distinguished himself among the many excellent writers today. Besides his work with Peter Cooper and Mac Wiseman on I Sang The Song, record producing, and engineering, he has racked up stunning writer credits. In less than two years, his songs have hit the Top 20 a baker’s dozen times with five topping the charts as recorded by Balsam Range, Junior Sisk, Terry Baucom, Irene Kelley (herself a stunning songwriter), and others.
Crazy If You Let It offers 11 of his songs performed his way, which is a very good way. Few bluegrass albums have succeeded in offering as great a range of styles. Jutz gives us hard bluegrass (“Crossing Over Black Mountain”), bluegrass gospel (“Run With The Horses”), Swing grass (“Sometimes What Glitters Is Gold”), acoustic country (the title song), and even Celtic flavored with “The Road To Galway.”
Jutz seems to find inspiration for lyrics in the least expected corners. A tree in singer-songwriter Jefferson Ross’s Atlanta yard inspired “Confederate Jasmine.” “Atlanta (Please Don’t Let Me Down)” sprung from a photograph of Charlie Poole, the stringband great. “Run With The Horses” takes a story from the Old Testament, but sets it so that it sounds nothing like standard bluegrass gospel.
Jutz enjoys exceptional collaborators as co-writers and musicians. The composers include Milan Miller (another of today’s most prolific and skilled bluegrass songwriters), veteran fiddlers Andrea Zonn and Tammy Rogers, Jon Weisberger, and the sublime Irene Kelley. Zonn and Rogers joined Sierra Hull, Mark Fain, and Justin Moses to back Jutz on the recording.
From writing to playing to singing, Crazy if You Let It simply works. Varied styles, lyrics, and themes fit together into a coherent album. It never bores, even when you listen to it enough to write a review. Whether you’re looking for great songs or terrific music, you’ll find it here. (Mountain Fever, 1177 Alum Ridge Rd. NW, Willis, VA 24380, www.mountainfever.com.)AM