Archive for February 2015

SHANNON AND HEATHER SLAUGHTER, “Never Just A Song,” Elite Circuit Music. 14 tracks.

February 23, 2015

Shannon Slaughter has spent two decades in bluegrass including stints with Lost & Found, Larry Stephenson, Savannah Road, Melonie Cannon and the Lonesome River Band.

Heather Slaughter is a former member of Acoustic Rain.

Now, the husband-wife team are working together, making some very good bluegrass and traditional country music.

The title cut of their latest album, “Never Just A Song,” is a Tim Stafford-Pam Tillis tribute to the late Harley Allen, who died of lung cancer four years ago at age 55.

But the lyrics are more honest than flowery — “He gave Jim Beam a bad name before it put him in the grave.”

“Whiskey Colored Dreams” is stone country, the kind of song you might find on a jukebox that’s been in storage since the late 1950s or early 1960s. And it sounds great.

Between them, the Slaughters co-wrote eight of the tracks on the album.

“Back To Birmingham” is a song about returning to your roots.

“Company Town” is about life in a hard-scrabble mining town.

Feelin’ Better” is an old Hank Williams Jr. song about getting his life back together.

“Go Sin No More” is a gospel song about redemption.

Ridin’ The Lightin’, Ropin’ The Storm” is a western song about a man running from the law.

“The Best Thing We Ever Did” is a personal song about the Slaughters finding each other and having a baby. The baby, Rae Carroll Slaughter, makes her recording debut, cooing at the end of the song.

The Slaughters have a good sound and songs worth hearing more than once.

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THE GIBSON BROTHERS, “Brotherhood,” Rounder. 15 tracks.

February 16, 2015

Eric and Leigh Gibson, arguably the hottest brother act in bluegrass after winning the International Bluegrass Music Association’s entertainer of the year honors in both 2012 and 2013, celebrate some of the great brother acts in country, rock’n’roll and bluegrass music in their new album, “Brotherhood.”

The upstate New York natives cut their first album in 1993.

“Brotherhood” is album No. 12 and it’s one of their best.

Material ranges from “Eastbound Train,” written in the 1890s, to Tompall and the Glaser Brothers 1982 hit, “It’ll Be Her.”

The lineup includes the Monroe Brothers‘ “I Have Found The Way,” Phil and Don Everly‘s “Bye Bye Love” and “Crying In The Rain,” Charlie and Ira Louvin‘s “Seven Year Blues,” Jim and Jesse McReynolds‘ “Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes,” Carter and Ralph Stanley‘s “How Mountain Girls Can Love,” the Blue Sky Boys‘ “The Sweetest Gift,” the York Brothers‘ “Long Gone,” the Church Brothers‘ “Angel With Blue Eyes,” the Four Brothers Quartet‘s “What A Wonderful Savior Is He,” the Osborne Brothers “Each Season Changes You” and the Lilly Brothers, “I’m Troubled I’m Troubled.”

“Brotherhood” shows that the Gibsons are equal to the task of matching their harmonies with some of the best brother acts in music.

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DARIN & BROOKE ALDRIDGE, “Snapshots,” Mountain Home. 11 tracks.

February 9, 2015

“Snapshots” is husband-wife duo Darin and Brooke Aldridge‘s sixth album.

It’s also their best.

The North Carolina natives released their first album, an all-gospel collection, in 2008, a few months before they were married.

Darin worked his way up through the bluegrass ranks, including a stint with the Country Gentlemen.

Brooke’s background is primarily in gospel.

But through the years, the couple has carved out a niche as the “singing sweethearts” of bluegrass.

The 11 songs on the album mostly come from bands the couple has liked or been part of in the past.

It’s a pretty even mix of sacred and secular numbers.

Sam Bush joins the Aldridges on “Get Up John,” an uptempo gospel song written by Bill Monroe, Marty Stuart and Jerry Sullivan.

Fiddle great Bobby Hicks sits in on Monroe’s “My Rose of Old Kentucky.”

Doyle Lawson lends his talents to “Let’s,” a hard-driving love song written by Eddie Adcock.

And Ricky Skaggs adds his harmonies to the gospel song, “When He Calls.”

Other songs include the Everly Brothers‘ “Let It Be Me,” Johnny Cash‘s “Tennessee Flat Top Box,” Dave Macon‘s “Wait Til The Clouds Roll By,” Gillian Welch‘s “Annabelle” and “Will You Be Ready,” written by Darin Aldridge and Bobby Jones.

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Keith Lawrence, 691-7301,

VOLUME FIVE, “Voices,” Mountain Fever. 12 tracks

February 2, 2015

Volume Five isn’t exactly a household name yet.

But give the band time. It’s only been around seven years.

And with an album like “Voices,” it’s going to get a lot more attention this year.

“Crazy Night,” the first single off the album, is more than a little weird (especially for bluegrass), with a man waking up chained to a bed, hearing voices and fearing for his life.

There’s plenty of darkness in the album.

But darkness has always been a key element in bluegrass.

There’s “King of California” about a man who strikes it rich in the California gold fields. only to lie dying with a bullet in his chest.

There’s “Going Across The Mountain,” which finds a man who’s trapped in a hollow and shot, while trying to reach the woman he loves on the other side of the mountain.

There’s “Satan’s Ridge,” about a man who’s searching a forest for the woman he loves but finding only blood on the ground.

And then there’s “Faithfully,” about a preacher who kills a man for stealing his wife.

But it’s not all darkness.

“Dream Softly” finds a man driving through the night with the woman he loves.

“Strangest Dream” is about a man who finds heaven in his dreams.

“Colder and Colder” is about a man who’s been on the road for 11 years. But he would stop if he could find the woman who left because he was never there.

And then there’s a great version of “Daddy Was An Ole Time Preacher Man” with Rhonda Vincent.

A good album that’s sure to get a lot of attention.

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