Since their last outing, Audie Blaylock and Redline, Jason Johnson has dropped out, and the group is a quartet, which changes the sound a bit but not the drop-dead fidelity to the top notch, pitch perfect, dyed in the wool bluegrass Blaylock has long been justly famed for. This time around, though, the emphasis seems to be more on story-telling songs dwelling distinctly in mid-tempo range.
Drink Up and Go Home is especially poignant, the moody retort of a man who's seen it all from the underside and is thankful to have survived but in no mood to commiserate with a fellow sufferer. Then Pray the Clouds Away reminds us that all flesh is grass and all joys temporary but so are trouble and woe. Along with the religious aspect so common to bluegrass, the entire presentation is a sparkling recital of the hallmarks of the genre, as is the a capella He is Near, a killer cut. Throughout Cryin' Heart Blues, vocal harmonies are just as important an element as the picking and strumming, and the young voices Blaylock surrounds himself with imbue the atmosphere with catchy hummable refrains. Of course, it doesn't hurt, either, that Evan Ward is one fine fine banjo player and ever at his peak.
Yes, this a mellower release than the last one (though the closing instrumental, Rummie's Run, is an absolute barn burner) but not a whit less impressive for all that. In these stressful days, it's comforting to have a bit of respite, less tumult, a more restrained pensivity.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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