BALSAM RANGE, “Papertown,” Mountain Home. 13 tracks
Last year, Balsam Range won song of the year honors from the International Bluegrass Music Association for “Trains I Missed,” and then faced tragedy when Buddy Melton, one of its lead vocalists, suffered a severe injury when a cow kicked a gate into his face.
But Melton recovered quickly and returned to the stage a month after facial reconstruction.
He sings lead on eight of the 13 cuts on the album, which was recorded after the accident.
The band takes its name from the Great Balsam Range Mountains in its native Haywood County, N.C. And the album, the band’s fourth on the Mountain Home label, takes its name from Canton, N.C., where a paper mill has been a major employer since 1906.
The title cut tells the town’s story in song.
Most of the material here is new or newish.
Older material includes Jimmie Skinner’s “Born Ramblin’ Man,” Roy Acuff’s “The Streamlined Cannonball” and “One Way Out,” a blues song recorded in the 1960s by both Elmore James and Sonny Boy Williamson II and popularized in the 1970s by The Allman Brothers.
“One Way Out” still has a bluesy feel, even with its translation to bluegrass.
“Any Old Road” is a song about leaving with no destination in mind.
“Better Days” finds a man traveling, missing a woman who used to make him smile.
“Row By Row” is uptempo gospel.
“Building The Fire” blames the woman for burning down their love until nothing is left by ashes and embers.
“I Ain’t Leavin’ ” is an anthem to living off the beaten path and not being in any hurry to move into the fast lane.
Good album by a good band.
Can’t find it in stores? Try http://www.CrossroadsMusic.com.