Archive for February 2014

CHARLSEY ETHERIDGE, “Memories of Mine,” no label. 10 tracks.

February 24, 2014

Charlsey Etheridge is a new talent in Nashville with a radio-friendly voice.

Her first album, though, is largely a calling card, showing what she can do with a song.

There are no original songs on the album.

It’s a blend of gospel, folk, country and bluegrass with a little swing and jazz thrown in.

You’ll find a piano, electric guitar and percussion on some of the songs. And some traditional bluegrass fans will be turned off by that.

But these are mostly gospel, country and bluegrass standards that Etheridge is putting her stamp on.

There’s “Wayfaring Stranger,” “Keep Your Eyes on Jesus,” “Amazing Grace,” “Land of Beulah,” “Tennessee Waltz,” “The Old Rugged Cross” and “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.”

Etheridge’s take on “Blue Moon of Kentucky” is more Elvis than Monroe. And “In The Pines” is more jazz than bluegrass.

“Filipino Baby,” a song the Dalton, Ga., native learned from her grandmother, dates back to the Spanish-American War. But it gained popularity again during and after World War II.

She makes them all sound fresh.

Etheridge obviously has the talent to make a name for herself in bluegrass.

Hopefully, her next album will include original material that will establish her presence in the genre.

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

DARREN NICHOLSON, “Things Left Undone,” no label. 12 tracks.

February 17, 2014

Darren Nicholson’s “Things Left Undone” is one of the best bluegrass albums of the new year –and it’s not even on a major label.

Nicholson is the mandolin player for Balsam Range, one of the best bluegrass bands to come down the pike in recent years.

His resume includes stints with the Alecia Nugent Band, Audie Blaylock & Redline and The Crowe Brothers.

Balsam Range’s website says, “Darren Nicholson is one of the most gifted mandolins players and harmony singers ever to come from the Southern Mountains.”

He’s a pretty good lead singer too.

Some might think the album is a little too close to country. And it is how country sounded when it was still good. But a lot of bluegrass these days is leaning in that direction to capture disenfranchised traditional country fans.

The title cut is a gospel ballad about dying. It asks the question: “Will you remember your successes or do you regret things left undone.”

“Durango” is a tale of a woman who’s had her heart broken by a banjo man and has had all the bluegrass she can stand.

“Like My Dog” finds a man wondering why his woman can’t be more like his dog and just love him without complaining.

“Give Mother My Crown” is an old gospel song about mothers.

“In A Perfect World,” the song says, his words wouldn’t scar her heart and he’d have nothing to hide. But, it says, life’s not that way.

Special guests include Rhonda Vincent, Carl Jackson, Bobby Hicks, Audie Blaylock and a lot more.

Two bonus tracks — “Way I’ve Always Been” and “Can’t You See” — feature the Darren Nicholson Band with Kevin Sluder on lead vocals.

But Nicholson doesn’t really need any help on lead vocals. He’s good enough on his own.

Can’t find it in stores? Try http://www.Darren Nicholson.net.

THE EASTER BROTHERS, “I’d Do It All Over Again,” Pisgah Ridge. 10 tracks.

February 11, 2014

When Russell, James and Ed Easter began playing bluegrass gospel music around Danville, Va., in the the early 1950s — some sources say 1951, some say 1953 — the high lonesome sound popularized by Bill Monroe hadn’t even been labeled “bluegrass.”

Elvis was still in high school, Americans were fighting in Korea and 45 rpm records were beginning to replace the old 78s on turntables.

More than six decades later, the Easter Brothers, now creeping into their 80s, are still performing the sound that made them legends in bluegrass gospel.

And the title of the latest of their many albums, “I’d Do It All Over Again,” says it all.

Gerald Crabb, a family friend, wrote three of the tracks including the title cut. But all the rest were written by Easters.

There’s a lot of uptempo material like “Let The Hallelujahs Roll,” “I Didn’t Leave The Way I Came” and the title track.

“You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover” says we shouldn’t throw stones at others just because they don’t live the way we do. It’s a message that’s too often lacking these days.

Ballads include “The Crossing,” “The Lost Sheep” and “Old-Fashioned Talk With The Lord.”

There’s one sort of secular song on the album — “The Good Old Days,” which is filled with nostalgia for both the old-time religion and life on the farm.

After more than 60 years together, the Easter Brothers’ harmonies are still strong and remind fans why they’ve been so popular for so long.

Can’t find it in stores? Try CrossroadsMusic.com.

KRISTY COX, “Living For The Moment,” Pisgah Ridge. 10 tracks.

February 3, 2014

It’s been 18 years since Kristy Cox hit the Australian bluegrass scene as an 11-year-old prodigy.

Now, she’s in Nashville, working on a career in American bluegrass.

Cox’s new Pisgah Ridge album, “Living For The Moment,” hits stores on Feb. 18.

She co-wrote five of the 10 songs on the album, two of them with Jerry Salley, a 30-year Nashville veteran who produced the album and joins Cox for a duet on “When It Comes To You,” a song about someone who knows it’s time to leave a bad relationship but can’t seem to make the break.

Salley also co-wrote four other songs.

“Love Builds The Bridge (Pride Builds The Walls)” is a classic country sound, first recorded by Patty Loveless in 1993. Cox’s version is equally good.

“My Kind of Train Wreck” is a hard-driving song about a love affair that’s headed for trouble — “I never heard the whistle/But I felt the crash.”

“One Heartbreak Away” finds her ready to leave — “Before a teardrop hits the floor, I’ll be gone.”

“I’m Not Gonna Sing The Blues” finds her trying to figure out who she is without him. But she’s not going to waste any tears on him.

“Widow’s Whiskey” tells the story of a woman who’s drinking her life away after her husband ripped the keys from her hand and drove away.

Good album by a promising new talent.