SWIFT CREEK, “Magnolia,” Vital Records. 12 tracks.

Posted April 25, 2016 by klawrence
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North Carolina-based Swift Creek released its first album in 2012.

And fans have had to wait four years for the follow-up.

“Magnolia” is a blend of bluegrass, folk and country — with keyboards and a piano in the mix.

But mostly, it’s bluegrass.

Kevin Brown, the guitar player and lead singer, wrote seven of the 12 songs.

“Bluegrass Hurricane” is an uptempo tune that traces the history of country and bluegrass music.

“Wake Me Up To Drive” is about taking the backroads rather than the interstates while traveling.

“Rattle Them Bones” is an eerie walk though the back streets of New Orleans with a lot of spooky imagery.

“Broken Bird” tells the story of man who can’t make commitments and can’t be faithful.

“Life in the Slow Lane” is a comical look at an average family whose idea of excitement is a T-ball game and watching “CSI” on TV.

“Afterglow” finds a couple, together for 33 years, tired of seven jobs in seven states, deciding to settle down and slow down.

The album ends with the county classic “Ashes of Love.”

Good album.

Can’t find it in stores? Try  SwiftCreekMusic.com.


THE BOXCARS, “Familiar With The Ground,” Mountain Home. 11 tracks

Posted March 21, 2016 by klawrence
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The Boxcars burst on the bluegrass scene in 2010 as a supergroup.

All five members had long bluegrass resumes.

The band quickly picked up instrumental group of the year honors from the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Their latest album, “Familiar With The Ground,” kicks off with Townes Van Zandt‘s cryptic “Lungs” and runs through a mix of traditional and progressive sounds.

“Raised on Pain” tells the story of a man who’s lived a hard life and thinks he can’t feel pain until the woman he loves leaves him.

The title track is about a struggling musician who knows how it feels to fly, but now he’s getting by with little, knowing how it feels to be on the ground.

“Branchville Line” is about a man who’s been falsely imprisoned for murder, but after 10 years in prison is about to break out.

“Let The Water Wash Over Me” finds an old man remembering a tragic drowning when he was 13.

“Marshallville” tells the story of a preacher tracking down the man who killed his wife.

“Brown Hill” is a blazing tale of moonshiner.

Can’t find it in stores? Try TheBoxcars.com.


CIRCA BLUE, “Once Upon A Time,” Orange Blossom. 10 tracks.

Posted March 14, 2016 by klawrence
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Steve Harris founded Circa Blue in 2010, not long after his return to bluegrass music.

“Once Upon A Time” is the band’s third album.

It’s a mixture of original songs — Harris co-wrote three, including the title track with fiddler Malia Furtado; three songs from the public domain; Juice Newton‘s 1981 country hit “Queen of  Hearts” and Gordon Lightfoot‘s “Whispers of the North.”

“Carolina Dust” is an uptempo song about an old man who’s had a tough life on farm that never really paid off. He’s buried two wives, his sons are gone and he’s praying for death.

“Before You Leave Here” warns the person who’s leaving that there is no coming back.

“Tripped Stumbled and Fell” finds a woman complaining that cupid’s arrows always miss her — and then she meets the person she falls for.

Can’t find it in stores? Try http://www.Circa-Blue.com.

Keith Lawrence (270) 691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

KRISTY COX, “Part of Me,”Pisgah Ridge, 11 tracks

Posted March 7, 2016 by klawrence
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Kristy Cox, a top Australian bluegrass musician, has been making her mark in the United States since 2013.

“Part of Me,” her new album, is her second in this country.

Jerry Salley, the Nashville singer-songwriter who produced the album, wrote or co-wrote seven of the 11 tracks.

Cox wrote or co-wrote four, including three with Salley

Chris Stapleton‘s “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore,” with its surprise ending, is one of the album’s highlights.

“Another Weary Mile,” a hard-driving song about driving through a snow storm on her way home with the gas tank nearing empty, kicks off the high-energy album.

“You Walked In” is an uptempo song about a woman facing a lonely weekend until she meets a man in a restaurant.

“William Henry Johnson” is the tale of a ladies man and a woman who thought she could change him. And when she couldn’t, well, she got even.

The title track, written by Pam Tillis and Salley, is about a woman wishing the new man in her life had come along before another man hurt her bad.

“Your Love Never Grows Old” finds a couple looking back on the 30 years they’ve been together.

Can’t find it in stores? Try Amazon, iTunes or similar Internet sites.


LONESOME RIVER BAND, “Bridging The Tradition,” Mountain Home, 12 tracks.

Posted February 29, 2016 by klawrence
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The Lonesome River Band is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its “Carrying The Tradition” album, which highlighted the bluegrass tradition while adding new elements to the music, with “Bridging The Tradition,” which continues the expansion of the band’s sound.

Drums and piano are a couple of elements traditionalists might find a little jarring.

But they work in this context.

Songs include the traditional “Boats Up The River,” Ralph Stanley‘s “Rock Bottom,” and “Rose in Paradise,” a No. 1 country song by Waylon Jennings in 1987.

But for the most part, the rest of the material is relatively new.

Band member Brandon Rickman co-wrote three — “Showing My Age,” “Mirrors Never Lie” and “Waiting On My Heart To Break.”

“Showing My Age” is one of the album’s highlights.

The singer is facing 40, turning gray and wondering where the years have gone.

“You get old or you die,” he reasons.

And there’s a well-deserved dig at Nashville — “Sure miss country music.”

“Thunder and Lightning” is about a moonshiner.

The rest of the album is about relationships — most of which aren’t working.

The release date is March 18.

Can’t find it in stores. Try http://www.LonesomeRiverBand.com

DANIEL CRABTREE, “The Gospel Road,” no label. 12 tracks

Posted February 22, 2016 by klawrence
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Singer-songwriter bluegrass gospel albums are rare.

But Daniel Crabtree, a member of The Lights Chapel Boys, has accomplished the task.

He wrote or co-wrote all 12 tracks on “The Gospel Road.”

The title track is about the journey of a person who finds salvation at a tent revival.

“Don’t Take Your Eyes Off Jesus” is an uptempo song that says if you want to walk on water, you first have to get out of the boat.

“Elijah” is an uptempo song about the Old Testament prophet Elijah.

“Time’s Getting Short” tells how time slips away from all of us.

“Jesus, Won’t You Guide Me” asks for help on his daily journey through life.

Can’t find it in stores? Try DanielCrabtreeMusic.com


DAVE ADKINS, “Dave Adkins,” Mountain Fever. 12 tracks

Posted February 15, 2016 by klawrence
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Pikeville, Ky., native Dave Adkins began playing bluegrass as an 8-year-old.

And by the time he was 17, he was performing at Dollywood.

After trying his hand in country and rock, Adkins returned to bluegrass — his first love — in 2010 with Dave Adkins & Republik Steel.

In 2015, he teamed with Edgar Loudermilk for a successful album.

And now, Adkins is back with a self-titled solo album.

A singer-songwriter, he wrote six of the 12 tracks on the album

“Emmaline” tells the story of an eastern Kentucky coal trucker about to leave his wife for another woman.

“Russell Fork River” is a tragic story about a woman who drowned and an innocent man who was hanged.

“Angel Song” finds a man wanting to hear his dead wife’s song from heaven.

“A Whole Lot More To Tell” is uptempo gospel.

“Turn and Burn” is a hard-driving song about a trucker.

“You Don’t Have To Go To Be Gone” finds a couple living together but not really together.

“Sold” topped the country charts for John Michael Montgomery two decades ago.

A good album.

Can’t find it in stores? Try http://www.DaveAdkinsMusic.com.



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