These days, most people probably know the Steep Canyon Rangers as the band that backs Steve Martin in his bluegrass concerts.

But the North Carolina-based quintet has been making good bluegrass since 2001 — eight years before they met Martin.

And earlier this year, they won the bluegrass Grammy on their own for “Nobody Knows You.”

The band had been nominated for a Grammy a year earlier along with Martin for “Rare Bird Alert.”

With that kind of background, you’d expect the Rangers’ latest album, which hits stores on Sept. 10, to feature some outstanding bluegrass.

And you’d be right.

Only you might call it “bluegrass-ish.”

The album was recorded at Levon Helm’s studio in Woodstock, N.Y., and produced by Larry Campbell, who has produced albums for Helm and Bob Dylan.

And with drums on eight tracks, “Tell The Ones I Love” stretches the boundaries of bluegrass.

But it’s still a strong album.

The lyrics are more about poetry than storytelling.

And the album is somewhat reminiscent of early country rock — without the electric instruments.

On “Bluer Words Were Never Spoken,” a train whistle cries for a woman who’s gone. On “Come Dance,” the singer promises to tell a woman “the prettiest lies ever told” if she’s dance with him.

“Boomtown” is a place “where shadows never touch the ground.” On “Lay Myself Down,” he’ll “wear chains like a crown” for her.

“Las Vegas” is a “slice of the American dream, five cherries in a slot machine.”

Band members — primarily Graham Sharp and Charles Humphrey — wrote or co-wrote all 12 tracks.

Mandolin player Mike Guggino wrote the instrumental, “Graveyard Fields.”

Another great album by a great band.

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

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