“Let the Ride Begin” by The Circuit Riders

The Circuit Riders
Let the Ride Begin
Pinecastle Records
2.5 Stars (out of 5)

The album title denotes a debut, while the band name reveals veteran familiarity with the road. Indeed, Let the Ride Begin is the inaugural effort from journeyman Greg Luck and four former Country Gentlemen.

Much like the Gents, the Circuit Riders’ material casts a wide net, with originals, collaborations, and covers culled from past affiliations (Acoustic Syndicate and the Bass Mountain Boys) and beyond. Standout originals include Luck’s leadoff chiller “Lonesome Wind” and Jaret Carter’s emotive instrumental “Pickett’s Charge.” The quintet hits the mark on Earl’s “Foggy Mountain Special,” but it misfires on a gassed-up, grassed-up version of Neil Young’s “Powderfinger.”

Nevertheless, the latter sparks more intrigue than fallbacks like mama, a house that isn’t a home, and a former farmer and his farm. However, Greg Corbett’s beautiful banjo, Darin Aldridge’s’ nimble mandolin, and Billy Gee’s bass work are more than enough to take them back to “Old Kentucky,” and Charlie Waller surely is smiling over the harmonies on “In the Master’s Glory.”

Sounding more like a kickoff than a closer, the driving “Cold Wind” indicates in no uncertain terms the launch of this talented collective. The Circuit Riders certainly are capable of separating themselves from the pack, but whether they’ll do so remains to be seen.

by Tim Walsh

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