Come On Down To My World
J.D. Crowe & the New SouthRounder 11661-0422-2
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Since 1975's classic debut album, J.D. Crowe & the New South have been a can't-miss proposition with each new release. The group has seen some of the finest players in contemporary bluegrass cycle through. While the individual faces change, the New South's strength as a force in bluegrass music remains constant.
With Come On Down To My World, J.D. Crowe and the New South add another jewel to their crowns as the kings of contemporary bluegrass. Regardless of who the particular members of the New South are, there are certain elements of their music that remain the same: instrumental precision, flawless harmony, an infusion of music from outside of bluegrass, and Crowe.
Returning from the group's last album (1994's Flashback) are Curt Chapman on bass and Phil Leadbetter on Dobro. Leadbetter, in particular, steps up on this album. His Dobro work, along with Crowe, provides the proper backdrop for each tune on the album. The interplay of Dobro and banjo is reminiscent of Scruggs and Graves. Glen Duncan and Buddy Spicher combine for some fine twin fiddle work. Mandolin player Dwight McCall holds his own in such heady company, providing the percussive backdrop and his own fine solo work. Along with guitarist Greg Luck, they share lead vocal responsibilities, comparing favorably to the other lead vocalists of the New South's history. Since the recording was made, rhythm guitarist Ricky Wasson has taken over Luck's lead vocals.
As they have done since their inception, the New South collects tunes from outside the stable of traditional bluegrass and gives them the bluegrass treatment. Country music gets the nod this time with tunes written and/or originally recorded by the likes of Merle Haggard ("Back to the Barrooms"), Charley Pride ("I'm So Afraid of Losing You Again"), and Townes Van Zandt ("White Freightliner"). The title song comes from Larry Rice, written when he was a member of the group.
And then there's Crowe himself. His backup work makes everyone else sound better. His instrumental work is as flawless as ever (check out "J's Tune"). No less than Bela Fleck has said of Crowe's banjo work, "There are very few banjo players that stop me dead in my tracks. J.D. is definitely one."
Come On Down To My World will take its place alongside other great albums from the New South. It is first rate music. And from J.D. Crowe and the New South, we would expect no less.
Edited by David Schultz