You will like this. You may not think it’s the greatest recording of all time, or even that it’s among the ten best of the year, but you will like it. You could, I suppose, quibble with the inclusion of such warhorses as “More Pretty Girls Than One,” “Crying Holy To The Lord,” “Can’t You Hear Me Calling,” and “Long Journey Home,” but here the band brings such a vibrant, bright, and appealing sound to them (to all the tracks, for that matter) that rather than sound tired, the qualities that made them standards are pronounced. The majority of the tracks, however, mix three band originals with some covers. Half of the latter you’ll probably recognize, and half you may not.
Opening the recording is “Anywhere Is Home Again,” a leavin’-the-grind-behind song by mandolinist Jesse Daniel and sung in resonant baritone lead by fiddler Glen Harrell. Daniel also wrote the title tune and “Coal Miner’s Curse,” and while they’re both well-crafted songs, “Anywhere Is Home Again” is the highlight. Ear-catching hooks are everywhere on it, and the performance and arrangement are impeccable.
That’s followed by the first of the non-standard, but recognizable, covers—“Good Ole Boys Like Me,” once a hit for Don Williams. The band brings to it a tour de force performance and a beautiful arrangement that is instantly engaging. Guitarist Adam Duke sings the lead with a smooth, slightly higher delivery, underscoring that the band has two equally fine lead vocalists. Similar good things can be said of “The Rabbit Song” (from the Lost & Found) and “The Grandpa That I Knew” (popularized by Patty Loveless). Both of those match perfectly with Harrell’s lead and capture the songs’ sentimentality without being mawkish.
Of the covers, “Greenwood Mill” and the lively gospel tune “You Better Wake Up” stand out, but there are no weak cuts here. As stated previously, you will like it. (Mountain Fever Records, 1177 Alum Ridge Rd. NW, Willis, VA 24380, www.mountainfever.com.) BW