Dry Branch Fire Squad is hailed in many quarters as one of the best bluegrass bands around, a bevy of pickers with crafted vocal harmonies and tight instrumental interplay. They also tend, at least in this release, to some real tear-jerkers, backwoods soap operas of down-home tragedy and happenstance. Even just the opening cut, Dixie Cowboy, tells of cattle drive round-ups, mangling, and death, a story in which a fallen herder laments missing his sweet mother's face as he passes on.
Echoes of the Mountains is the group's 10th Rounder release, and it's guaranteed to have ya blubberin' in yer beer, Bubba. But don't worry: there won't be a dry eye in the tavern anywhere an' all yer fellow longbranches are also gonna be snifflin' like mama's lil' boys suddenly come down with instant colds. Even the hilariously titled (You Got to Pray to the Lord) When You See Those Flying Saucers is religiously apocalyptic, intoning the sturm und drang of Judgment Day. Hard to tell if the cut was chosen to be tongue-in-cheek but it hardly matters; as a novelty song, it's unbeatable. Then listen as the band turns Sam Cooke's classic Bring It on Home to Me from a soul scorcher into a gin-yoo-wine country staple that few would doubt originated in the Ozarks had they heard the Dry Branch Fire Squad's version first.
That song also sports a killer showcase of the gents' instrumental talents, a facet that gets a little obscured while you're otherwise caught up in their lonesome mountain voices and tales of valor, woe, and hardtack. But no matter where you go on this disc, you're going to wind up tangled in fencerails, buckboards, and swampy cattails, more than happy—um, albeit tearily so—to be thus entwined. Some bluegrass, ladies and gents, is blue-er than the rest.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles