A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
By Al Price
No doubt about it, The Lonesome River Band is one fine group of musicians. Their instrumental and vocal prowess is showcased in One Step Forward, their latest release from Sugar Hill. Prominent throughout the album is the banjo playing of Sammy Shelor, a true picker's picker. The notes are clean. the tone is full, and the backup work is just as compelling to listen to as his solos.
Vocal work is shared by Shelor, mandolin player Don Rigsby, bassist Ronnie Bowman and guitarist Kenny Smith. Their harmonies are right on the money. The album does not include an a cappella number, and sadly so, as the harmonies are so strong.
The album includes original, contemporary and classic bluegrass songs, varied in tempo, style and content. The opening number, "When You Go Walking", is a great mid-tempo bluegrass piece with just enough bite to get you started listening. "Southern Comfort" is an instrumental piece showcasing Shelor and Smith which challenges you to keep your feet still. "Flat Broke and Lonesome" could easily become a crossover hit on contemporary country stations, while remaining true to bluegrass tradition in its musical construction. "Katy Daley", the Ralph Stanley classic, gets The Lonesome River Band treatment with invigorating results, especially on Rigsby's mandolin break.
Guests on the album include fiddlers Aubrey Haymie and Randy Howard, and Jerry Douglas on Dobro and Weissenborn guitar. Their contributions add to the rich full sound on each track.
If there's one disappointment in the album, it's that there isn't enough of it. At 35:10, one wishes there were ten or fifteen more minutes of this music. Then again, no matter how much one hears of One Step Forward, you're bound to want more.
[Edited by: Cynthia A. Harney]Copyright 1996, Three Rivers Folklife Society.