Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road issued their Back to my Roots in 2011 and found hugely enthusiastic reception, spending a full two months on the holy of holies in the bluegrass world, the Bluegrass Unlimited National Bluegrass Survey. Nowadays, with all the great music coming out and constantly supplanting what emerged just the week before, two months is a marathon, y'all, the long haul. The reason for LJ's success, though, is not difficult to discern: this band is unbelievably tight when they rev up, which is often, and back door breezy in balladry. Jordan's known for her maverick hard-driving mandolin style, and Ben Greene's a damn good banjo player, non-stop picking. Josh Goforth plies a fiddle in the fashion of a David Laflamme or a Richard Greene after a few dozen Starbucks Specials, Tommy Long tackling the lead vocals along with Lorraine and setting his guitar down in the rhythm section, John Bradley's bass accompanying.
Ah, but then there are the harmony vocals coming through like a backwoods barbershop quartet, not to mention that the band's material is frequently upbeat and positive. Ya know, I loves me my blue bluegrass, but it sure is helpful nowadays, seeing as how we seem to be wading deeper and deeper into one mess after another, to hear that the good stuff is still around despite all that, that there's hope and humanity yet. Sure, Carolina Road totes an ample mess o'pinin' 'n longin' 'n regret, bluegrass wouldn't be bluegrass without it, but even those tracks carry a spark telling us things'll get better even when they're dark.
By the by, that song title in the line-up, Song of the French Broad, isn't some politically incorrect ditty about a woman from Allemagne-en-Provence or Paris but rather an ode to the French Broad River in Kentuckey. Phew! I thought maybe I was going to have to explain things to Bill Maher! The closer, Liza Jane, sees the ensemble sprinting for the finish line and is kind of an Orange Blossom Special gig, a high-kicking rave-up meant to get everyone up and jumpin', from tykes and teens to granma and grandpa, and, man o man, I sure wish they'd've done a couple more cuts like that'n! Nonetheless, I'm happy as hell with what's here…and that's hardly surprising as this CD sees the band signed to one of the two best Americana labels around: PineCastle Records. If I have tell you what the other one is, you just aren't paying attention, pilgrim.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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