Time to Go
3.5 stars (out of 5)
Vermont singer-songwriter Erin McDermott picked up some of Nashville’s best acoustic pickers for this 12-song, 52-minute outing, and the results are satisfying, if a little unexpected. Bryan Sutton (acoustic guitar), Stuart Duncan (fiddle and cello), Byron House (bass), Brent Truitt (mandolin) and Scott Vestal (banjo) back McDermott’s strong vocals on fine slice of progressive bluegrass on the album’s opening cut “Going Home.”
The rest of the album inhabits that hard-to-classify space that many singer-songwriters inhabit somewhere between rock, folk, country and even pop. The several flavors are created not just by the acoustic musicians, but by the addition of electric guitar from Truitt, drums from John Garner and pedal steel from the incomparable Paul Franklin.
The main ingredient, though, is McDermott’s rich voice that at times packs enough punch to out-sing all three Dixie Chicks at once. Some of that sass is evident on tracks like “Time to Go,” “Fowler Farm” and the delightful second-chance celebration “Louise.”
McDermott’s more subtle side is evident on tough relationship songs “Sometimes” and “Before Love Passes Us By” and on the heart-wrenching tale “Truth of Suffering,” perhaps the best-written of a fine batch of songs. “Already Leaving” is the best-arranged, with a shimmering steel interlude from Franklin leading into the song’s soaring second half.
“Weeping Willow,” a song from the tree’s point-of-view, “40-Acre Holocaust,” about the battle of Antietam and “Baker Street,” an ode to small-town country life, round out the album, giving some extra texture to a fine effort.