STEEP CANYON RANGERS, “Out in the Open,” Ramseur Records. 12 tracks.

The Steep Canyon Rangers have been making bluegrass-based — but not necessarily bluegrass — music since 2000.

But it wasn’t until 2009, when they first teamed with Steve Martin, that the Rangers began to garner national attention.

In 2013, their album, “Nobody Knows You,” won the Grammy for best bluegrass album.

The Rangers have pushed the bluegrass boundaries with each album.

And “Out in the Open” may well be the best ever.

The first single, “Going Midwest,” is about a man on the move, thanking the woman he left behind for “being kind to a stranger.”

“Farmers and Pharaohs” finds the singer advising others to not let their true loves go the way he did.

The title track is about a man breaking free of the life he was living and deciding to live his life out in the open.

“Can’t Get Home” finds him visiting the house he grew up in, but finding that it’s no longer home.

“When She Was Mine” is about a man who realizes that he never wanted to be free.

“Love Harder” finds the singer deciding not to give up on a long-time relationship and resolving to just love harder.

“Let Me Die in My Footsteps” is a plea for world peace.

Bill Monroe wouldn’t call this album bluegrass.

But he’s been dead for more than 20 years.

And most bluegrass fans today will consider it close enough.

Another strong album from a great band.

Can’t find it in stores? Try Amazon.com and all the other major sites.

 

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