Dailey & Vincent
Brothers from Different Mothers
5 stars (out of 5)
Every once in a while, an album comes out that reminds me why I first fell in love with bluegrass music: the soaring, tight harmonies, the sense of fun in seeing how much you can do within the limits of the genre, and, of course, a driving banjo.
Dailey & Vincent’s eponymous debut album did that for me, and their sophomore album Brothers from Different Mothers does it again, staying mostly within the formula that worked last time, but reaching for, and grabbing, that little bit extra that keeps it fresh and eminently exciting.
Joe Dean Jr.’s banjo kicking off “Head Hung Down” signals that the energy meter is set to 10 right off the bat, with the vocal trio of Jamie Dailey (guitar), Darrin Vincent (mandolin, arch-top guitar and bass) and baritone Jeff Parker (mandolin) clearly in fighting shape.
That’s even more evident on the next track, Roger Miller’s “You Ought to Be Here with Me,” which features a gorgeous high-lead trio on the verses and a stratospheric tenor line that Dailey hits on the chorus.
“Your Love is Like a Flower” isn’t the Flatt & Scruggs hit of the same name, but a quick-stepping showcase for Vincent’s lead vocals on the verse and for the duo’s brother-style harmonies on the chorus.
The brother duet is back on the gospel of “When I’ve Travelled My Last Mile,” with an arrangement that recalls their stellar performance on Gillian Welch’s “By the Mark” on the last album.
“Years Ago” is a cover of the Statler Brothers’ 1982 country hit about a guy slinking into his ex’s wedding, and an unabashed tribute to that group’s southern gospel sound, driven by a Scruggs-style guitar figure, some light percussion and, again, those amazing harmonies.
Next is another Statler Brothers tune, “There is You,”a happy duet that morphs into a trio on the choruses and ends with an understated southern gospel crescendo.
The boys get back to straight bluegrass with “Girl in the Valley,” a Dailey-penned song that he previously recorded with Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.
Ron Spears’ “Please Don’t Let Our Sweet Love Die” is another modern update of a classic bluegrass song, this time in the form of a country weeper with Dailey offering proof that he’s every bit as great when singing a simple lead as when he’s harmonizing.
Sometimes gospel numbers take the momentum away from an album, but the opposite is true here, with “Oh Ye Must Be Born Again” and “When I Reach that Home Up There” serving as opportunities for more great southern gospel-style harmonies and demonstrating the band’s obvious love for the message of that sort of material.
In between those two powerhouses, lies a simple, perfect take on Gillian Welch and David Rawlings’ lonesome, yet hopeful, “Winter’s Come and Gone.”
A modern gospel tune framed with simple guitar and a string quartet, “On the Other Side” closes the album on a sentimental note, one that took me a few listens to get used to given its difference from the rest of this project, but in the end, it was — again — the perfect harmonies that won me over.
This one’s easily my favorite bluegrass release of 2009.
by Aaron Keith Harris