BALSAM RANGE, “Five,” Mountain Home. 13 tracks.
Last year, Balsam Range won album of the year honors from the International Bluegrass Music Association for “Papertown.”
And their 2010 album, “Trains I Missed,” won song of the year honors for its title track.
Not a bad pedigree, but it puts pressure on each new release to live up to the past.
So, how does the new album, “Five,” stack up.
Pretty good, actually.
The song selection is strong and the band — Buddy Melton, Caleb Smith, Tim Surrett, Marc Pruett and Darren Nicholson — is still at the top its game.
“Stacking Up Rocks,” an a capella gospel tune, is one of the album’s highlights.
“From A Georgia Battlefield” tells the story of a dying Confederate solider, who’s just 16.
“Songs I’ve Sung” finds a dying man dividing his possession, but what, he wonders, will happen to the songs he’s sung.
“I Spend My Days Below The Ground” is about a man who dreamed of being a doctor but followed his father into the mines to support his family. And now he hopes his son can escape the family tradition.
“Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold)” is a bluegrass version of Dan Seals’ No. 1 country song from 1986.
“Matthew” is John Denver’s song about a man who lost his farm and his family but found God.
“Too High A Price To Pay” finds a man deciding that what he has to do to try to keep a woman isn’t worth it.
“Don’t Watch These Tears” is about a man who will always love a woman even though she’s found somebody else.
Great album by a great band.