Grasstowne. “The Other Side of Towne,” Pinecastle. 14 tracks.
Grasstowne burst on the bluegrass scene two years ago with “The Road Headin’ Home,” a strong debut album that sent a single — “Dixie Flyer” — to the top of Bluegrass Unlimited’s charts for three consecutive months.
The band was an instant super-group with Phil Leadbetter, one of the top resonator guitarists in bluegrass, who had spent years with J.D. Crowe’s New South and then Wildfire; Steve Gulley, who first made his mark with Doyle Lawson’s Quicksilver and then became a founding member of Mountain Heart; and Alan Bibey, who built his reputation with IIIrd Tyme Out and Blueridge.
But it’s been two years since the debut album. How does the band sound now?
About the same actually. When you start with veteran musicians at the top of their game, there’s not a lot of room for growth.
Gulley and Bibey are still honing their songwriting skills and each contributed three songs they wrote or co-wrote to the project.
Gulley’s songs are “Lifting Up The Cross,” a gospel number; “Somebody’s Gonna Let You Down,” an uptempo song about people not living up to expectations; and “Sorrow Ain’t Far Behind,” a song that gives all the instruments a good workout.
Bibey contributed “Pay Your Dues,” a song about the traveling life; “Tobaccoville Road,” an instrumental; and “The Day Hell Freezes Over,” a song with a sing-along chorus and some great harmony.
Gulley, who does George Jones almost as well as George Jones does, sings Jones’ classic “The Door” from 1974.
Melba Montgomery’s “Big, Big Heartaches,” an uptempo number, is the first single from the album. It was already at No. 20 on the September Bluegrass Unlimited charts.
Other cuts worth checking: “Laura Lie,” a cheatin’ song about the “daughter of the devil,” and “Salvation Of The Lord,” an a capella gospel quartet number that features Terry Baucom singing bass.
It’s a strong album.
Can’t find it in stores? Try http://www.grasstowne.com.