CUMBERLAND RIVER, “The Life We Live,” Rural Rhythm. 13 tracks.
Most bluegrass bands can only dream of the exposure Cumberland River got this year.
The FX series, “Justified,” featured an instrumental version of the band’s song of the same name on its March 2 show and five songs from the band on April 6.
The series. one of the best on television, averaged 7.2 million viewers a week for the season. That’s a lot of exposure for a 2-year-old bluegrass band.
Cumberland River’s song, “Justified,” is not the series theme song, by the way.
That’s “Long Hard Times to Come” by Gangstagrass.
But when producers of the series, which is set in Kentucky but mostly filmed in California, heard the band perform their song inspired by the series, “I thought we should somehow get them involved with the show,” creator Graham Yost wrote.
All 13 songs on the album were written by the band’s members — James Dean, Joey Jones, Dustin Middleton, Andy Buckner and Jamie Stewart.
They’re good, full-bodied songs from a band that projects a redneck-rock attitude with a solid traditional bluegrass foundation.
The fact that two of the musicians are also miners lends an air of authenticity to the songs.
Dale Ann Bradley adds some amazing harmony vocals to four tracks. And producer Steve Gulley sings harmony on seven tracks.
“Harlan Man” and “Miners Prayer” both find miners worrying about whether they’ll survive another day at work, but knowing that there are no other jobs around.
“Mary Flynn” is a great ghost story about a woman who gets her revenge from beyond the grave.
“Remember Me” is an uptempo murder ballad.
The title cut finds a man battling addiction with “a black hole where my heart used to be.”
“Antietam’s Hill” is a uptempo song about “Lincoln’s War” and a battle that finds men “doing the Devil’s work.”
“The Road Back Home” finds a man who left home before he was grown realizing that home is where he wants to be.
And “Justified,” like the series, is about U.S. Marshal, who comes back to the mountains where he was once a miner.
Good national debut by a band with a solid foundation and a lot of promise.
Can’t find it in stores?