I don't think it will surprise much of anyone to find the Roys once again going from strength to strength with their latest, The View. In just a few short years, from 2011 'til now, they've made an indelible mark in the bluegrass / country / folk world and with The View are demonstrating exactly why that's so: every cut is written or co-written by Lee and Elaine Roy so that not a second of the disc is less than pure undiluted The Roys…with, of course, the usual passel of great players and noteworthy writers (Larry Alderman, Josh Thompson, Jenee Fleenor and etc.). The pair even produced this one themselves, which is, of course, yet more evidence of artistic control and thus of ever more personalized style, content, and spirit.
The CD was even engineered so as to wring a more Grand Ol' Opry sound, much credit to Josh Swift on that, in concordance with the estimably antiquarian nature of the enterprise. All due accolades to prog-grass and other modes for their loving ministrations in updating things, but The Roys are more interested in illuminating what makes bluegrass so damn attractive in the first place: that rootsy folksy soulfulness that's as solid as the hills it came down from, the link to the past it would serve us ill to forget. And this explains why, no matter what they issue, their CDs and songs sprint to the top slots of the every chart entered. The Roys ensure that the phrase 'the real deal' doesn't lose meaning.
Lament musics arose in all cultures long before the blues popped its glorious head up here in America, and Mended Wings is an excellent example of how the idiosyncrasy appeared in early days in one of many forms. Black Gold is an interesting protest song, a nod to the precursor of what we're now dealing with (global climate change). Knuckle-draggers and devotees of the idiotic Rush 'Rough Trade' Limbaugh may wish to visit this song before proceeding to yodel in the Fox News choir, as concern for the Earth and its people was around long before those multimillionaire troglodytes started to plague us, is in fact an element of the Bible. We're supposed to minister to the planet, not destroy it, 'member?
As ever, even with the killer instrumentations (Daniel Patrick's banjo knocks me out but everyone turns in A-1 chops), the center attractions are Lee's and Elaine's vocals either on their own or in harmony. Memory flies straight back to the days of Flatts & Scruggs when listening to their oeuvre, and that's only one of the many elements that keep propelling these player-songwriters to the summit of the mountain as they peal out one great song after another…and I see no sign whatsoever of that weakening or ceasing.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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