Tony Holt sings and Aubrey Holt writes, and all is right with the latest Wildwood Valley Boys CD. Of the fourteen songs on this recording, Aubrey wrote seven of them; songs of lost pride, lost love, a trucker’s life, of memories, and of longing. His “Cherokee Shame” is a look at a man’s life interrupted by alcohol and jail and what that interruption does to his family’s heritage. “Board That Train And Ride,” a chugging burner, makes plain the desire to shake the dirt from your shoes when you hear that whistle blow, while “Each Memory Is A Treasure,” “Only In My Dream,” and “Headin’ Home” explore different aspects of the “good times.” Tom Holt’s “If I Had My Way” is another good memory song.
Once in the hands of Tony Holt, Aubrey’s songs (and indeed all the songs on this recording) take on a vibrancy and emotional quality that is hard to surpass. Just how fine a singer he has become can be heard on his cover of “Lost Highway.” Delivered in a smooth, even baritone, Tony gives the song a wistfulness not found on the Hank Williams classic, which is more pleading. Moreover, were it not for Hank’s version, Tony’s would be in serious contention for the honor.
Joining Tony are Aubrey on harmony, bassist Tom Patrick, mandolinist Brad Lambert, and guests: banjoist Jeff Murray, resonator guitarist Matt Despain, and fiddler Michael Cleveland. Together they create a solid body of sound, particularly strong on “Board That Train…,” “Each Memory…,” and on Aubrey’s slow, country lament, “Just Another Souvenir.” Their good work together equally applies to the seven covers that round out this recording. Of those, the fast and flowing opener “Get A Little Dirt On Your Hands,” Jimmie Skinner’s “A Born Ramblin’ Man,” and Buck Owens’ “I Know That You Know (That I Love You)” stand out. All in all, a fine recording. (Old Heritage Records, P.O. Box 983, Goodlettsville, TN 37070, www.oldheritagerecords.com.)BW