The Missy Werner Band
Three Kinds of Lonesome
3.5 stars (out of 5)
By Donald Teplyske
Storming out of Ohio this winter is the sophomore project from the Missy Werner Band. Fronted by the mandolin-playing bandleader, this quartet reveals here that they are ready for a national stage.
Produced by noted bluegrass writer and musician Jon Weisberger, Three Kinds of Lonesome is a very strongly crafted contemporary bluegrass album. Professionally recorded but by no means staid, the warm and vibrant performances make even new songs instant favourites.
Following in the footsteps of bandleaders including Lynn Morris and Alison Krauss, Werner has elected to emphasize the Missy Werner Band rather than utilize a contingent of studio hands. Tim Strong plays guitar and contributes vocals while Artie Werner plays the bass and sings. Jeff Roberts is the band’s 5-string player with Missy Werner holding down the mandolin parts and lead vocals.
Only a few instrumental guests appear, notably Mike Witcher on Dobro® and Aaron Till on fiddle. Duet vocals from Frank Solivan (“Endlessly”) and the always dependable Chris Jones (“Just the Same”) provide variety while Jennifer Strickland’s vocals add additional texture.
Several Weisberger co-writes appear throughout the album’s 14 selections. Written with Strickland, “I’d Rather Love a Memory” kicks off the album with a familiar-sounding and appealing melody, and one day I may even place it! Later, “Right Here” – co-written by Lisa Shaffer- and “Let It Go”- written with Ashley Lewis- take different routes toward life’s pathways.
Werner appears comfortable singing the chosen songs and is an emotive singer. One may desire one or two fewer sentimental lost-love songs, but on balance Three Kinds of Lonesome retains this listener’s interest. “I Like the Country”- the Jim McCall song- features nice harmony work from Werner’s bandmates. The album closes with a welcome interpretation of The Bluegrass Cardinals’ “Journey to My Savior’s Side.”
Intentionally, Werner pays tribute to the hard-working women who broke ground as bluegrass bandleaders. “Blue Skies and Teardrops” comes from the Lynn Morris Band album The Bramble & the Rose while Larry Cordle’s “My First Mistake” closed Dale Ann Bradley’s East Kentucky Morning album fifteen years ago.
Modern bluegrass is rife with influences and interpretations that expand the music’s definition. Three Kinds of Lonesome is a bluegrass album that couldn’t have been produced twenty years ago; its balance of contemporary sounds within a fairly traditional band setting is most impressive.