MERLE MONROE, “Back to the Country,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks.

Bluegrass and traditional county music have been drawing closer in recent years.

And that’s been bringing a lot of traditional country fans to bluegrass festivals.

Now, there’s a new band that takes its name from a country music icon and a bluegrass icon.

Merle Monroe says its name and sound are inspired by Merle Haggard and Bill Monroe.

Two of the songs — “Movin’ On” and “Hungry Eyes” — were written by Haggard.

The band was organized by Tim Raybon, formerly of The Raybon Brothers, and Daniel Grindstaff, who’s worked with such legends as Jesse McReynolds and the Osborne Brothers.

Raybon wrote six of the songs on the album.

The first single is Roger Miller‘s “This Town,” a blazing song about a man determined to get out of a town he finds boring and dying.

The title of the album is based on “Back Where It’s At,” a ballad about life being too fast and the singer’s desire to get back to the basics of life.

“Whippoorwill” is an uptempo song about a man missing a woman.

“Beautiful Kentucky” tells the story of a man who left home at 18 and can’t wait to get back there.

There are a couple of gospel numbers — “Beautiful City” and “He Will Roll You Over The Tide.”

“Singing Crazy (Like Patsy Cline)” finds a man wondering how love can be so blind.

“Dad” is a letter written to a father to tell him words his son can’t seem to say.

“I’ll Follow You” is a love song about a man who says he will do anything for the woman he loves.

“The Kindest Man” is about a man who wants to be like his grandfather, a sharecropper who helps everybody with everything he has.

Band members include Jayd Raines, Josh Doss and Derek Deakins.

A good album.

Look for it June 21 on

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