Marty Raybon may well be standing at the apex of the fusion of the elder of days in bluegrass with modernist cowboy/country musics, and the decision to set the sparkling That Janie Baker as the lead cut here was the perfect move. From the first few bars until the closing moments, the listener is compelled like a bee to a nectar-laden flower. There are a lot of excellent musicians in the field, all trying the same thing, succeeding to one degree or another, but there's something almost magic about this guy's work. It might be the fact that he has a Western singing soul that approaches that of the magnificent Danny Brooks, or it could be those echoes of Flatts & Scruggs (and who the hell can resist those guys?), perhaps it's the fact he possesses an unnamable penchant that cats like Bill Emerson have in wedding the traditional with the innovative, but whatever it is, the result is letter perfect, and, as is usual with the Rural Rhythms label, meticulous attention is paid to capturing every note in perfect detail.
Raybon's backing band, The Full Circle, and their guests are more polished than any apple on the teacher's desk the day of a tough test, with banjo hotshots Chris Wade and Daniel Grindstaff particularly noticeable, but the twangy vocal wailing of Raybon is the main attraction here, and when the instruments are peeled back to give him full sway, as in the ballad Look for Me (For I will be There Too), well, the nature of his work becomes much clearer…the gent's been in the biz for four decades and learned more than most pro's forget. Then catch its follower, The Big Burnsville Jail, matching up Merle Haggard with Roger Miller in a bad boy saga carrying that taste of escapism that tickles so many ears.
Though Mountain Love sports some great hoots 'n holler singing, my favorite cut is A Little More Sawdust On the Floor, an appeal to return to older days and older ways where money was not God and people knew how to be neighbors instead of rats in the race. This song, I think, is going to appeal to musicians just as much as listeners, as it captures a lot and chides one and all for being so remiss in just enjoying life. Of course, the barbershop quartet-ish Only You, Only You makes the heart skip a beat, and Hurt me All the Time gets ya back up on the dance floor despite the Runaround Sue featured in the lyrics 'cause ya just can't resist that bootscootin' set of rhythms. Ah, but listen closely to the lyrics, as they're clever and contain a surprise that turns all that gossip about said temptress back on them talky mouths with a wink and a smile.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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