Ahhhhhh!, there are bands you just can't get enough of, and Lonesome River Band definitely falls into that category. Look, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Pure Prairie League were or are very cool combos (hell, with all the tumult in the industry, one can never be sure what bands are still together, who's busted up, who's getting back together, or what all), but listen to *Still Learning* and hear the real deal. The latest in a line of releases ranging back years, this is hands-down their best yet.
Lightning chops and down-home vocals (if'n your little patch of hearth paradise lies in a hoot an' a holler, that is) combine for a riveting bluegrass experience of original and well-selected cuts. Brandon Rickman, singer and guitarist, is the penman in the bunch, but the band's arrangement of tracks written by Merle Haggard, Mel Tillis, Terry McBride, and others become LRB's own, dovetailed in a trademark sound that so many have found so damn irresistible. I harbor a seriously soft spot for banjo, and Sammy Shelor plays a mighty fine one, melodic, smooth, but constructed from whirlwinds and uber-kinetics when required. Knock him together with the similarly high-plectrum sound of Andy Ball's mandolin, and, hoo boy!, that's bluegrass right there. All the guys, however, are topnotch and as practiced and integrated as if orchestra members in their day jobs.
It's a shame music like this isn't making it to the mainstream as much as it should. Certainly, on classic rock stations where Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, the Band, and the likes of Springsteen and Mellencamp are so easily found, you'd think this much rootsier sound would be a godsend. But that may itself be the problem. Were Lonesome River Band and ilk to show up in such venues, they just might start bleeding off sales of those other estimables, and we can't have that……can we? Well, yes we can. That's what competition means, and that's what keeps everything alive and fresh. Think about it.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles