When NewFound Road left southwestern Ohio on the bluegrass trail a decade ago, it was primarily a bluegrass gospel group.
But it wasn’t long until the quartet was covering a full range of bluegrass material, from sacred to secular, traditional to contemporary.
Tim Shelton, lead singer and guitarist, is the only founding member still with the group. But the newer members of the band — Jamey and Joe Booher and Josh Miller — are good musicians and NewFound Road is as strong as it ever was.
However, Jim VanCleve’s fiddle — added for the album — seems so essential to the music that it’s hard to imagine the band’s sound without it.
“Live At The Down Home” was recorded live last December at The Down Home, a Johnson City, Tenn., restaurant/club. Most of the material comes from earlier albums.
But a live performance — even recorded — brings more energy to the music than a studio recording.
The band does a good job of taking songs from other genres and turning them into strong bluegrass songs.
There’s Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine”; Dave Loggins’ “Please Come To Boston”; Jackson Browne’s “These Days”; David Paich’s “Houston,” a country hit for Glen Campbell; and Tom T. Hall’s “That’s How I Got To Memphis,” from his years as a country singer.
There are a couple of bluegrass classics — Earl Scruggs’ “Ruben” and Carter Stanley’s “Lonesome River.”
But NewFound Road also creates some great original music.
Miller wrote “Blackadders Cove,” an uptempo murder ballad; and co-wrote “If You’ll Pretend,” an uptempo love song, with Shelton; and “We Ain’t Going Down Without A Fight,” an uptempo song about a moonshiner declaring war on revenue agents who have arrested his son, with Barry Bales.
Randall Hylton’s “Room At The Top Of The Stairs” and Sonya Isaacs and Josh Ragsdale’s “Try To Be” are both strong additions to the album.
Can’t find it in stores? Try www.newfoundroad.com.