Living A Dream
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
They say you can tell a lot about a person by the company he keeps. In Living A Dream, Mark Newton is in good company: Ralph Stanley, Alan O'Bryant, Mike Auldridge, Don Rigsby, Sammy Shelor, Jerry Douglas, Ronnie Bowman, Tony Rice, Mark Johnson, Rickie Simpkins, Ronnie Simpkins, Bill Emerson and more. In the liner notes, Newton says that this collection was "put together with the intent to represent my traditional roots as well as my gospel and contemporary influences."
And what a representation it is! While all the tunes have a traditional feel to them, many have been authored by Newton and other contemporary writers. In Monrosine, Newton pays tribute to Bill Monroe and tells the tale of his pilgrimage to Monroe's gravesite in Rosine, Kentucky. Joined in vocals by Newton's (and my) favorite bluegrass singer, Alan O'Bryant, they not only pay tribute with the lyric, but with their vocal phrasing as well.
The album presents us with many fine performances throughout. Dr. Ralph Stanley brings chills with his harmony vocals in I've Just Seen The Rock Of Ages; and for good measure, he sings a lead verse or two with Newton in Sugar Coated Love.
Sammy Shelor's unmistakable banjo style flows throughout the album. Whether it be with the Lonesome River Band, his solo work, or here with his former Virginia Squires band-mate, Shelor continues to be one of the finest banjo pickers around. His opening to Midnight Rider is incredible.
Mark Newton is putting out some of the tastiest bluegrass albums around these days, and Living A Dream is no exception. It is a treasure.
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Edited by Paula Gregorowicz