Mountain Home Records
5 stars (out of 5)
By Larry Stephens
The Boxcars are a group that you can enjoy on CD or in person. Excellent musicians, they also understand putting on a performance, not just standing on stage and picking. Adam Steffey is a good front man and excellent mandolin player and Ron Stewart is always interesting as he switches effortlessly between banjo and fiddle.
And that takes nothing away from the rest of the band. Harold Nixon provides support on the bass as Keith Garrett sings and plays guitar. John Bowman rounds out the group with his fiddle and guitar work. Superb musicians one and all.
The band shows off their song writing skills on this CD. Coon hunting has long had an association with bluegrass, notably Jimmy Martin and his coon hunting stories. Reminiscent of “Brown Mountain Lights,” Keith Garrett gives us the story of Jeffrey (“Jeffrey’s Hell”) and his lost coonhound. Jeffrey tells his wife it’s okay, he knows the woods and will find him, but “she never held him in her arms again.”
See that lamp burning bright, he’s there another night
Listen close and you can hear him yell
Keep your lamp turned low, there’s not much more to go
As he walks another night in Jeffrey’s hell
Having spent many a night looking for lost hounds I can appreciate this song even without the good tune and great picking.
Stewart contributes a bluegrass favorite, the murder song. In this case two young orphans are making their way in “Crawford County” when they are shot by a lawman in a mixed up affair. But there’s backwoods justice and the lawman soon joins them in untimely death. Coon hunting and murder – where else but bluegrass?
Stewart also writes about heartbreak in “Alone and Wondering Why,” a song that any of the great bluegrass stars of the past could have sung, bluegrass tradition at its best. Garrett was also busy with “Don’t Fall In Love With A Girl Like That,” one whose heart is “in shackles and chains.” Staying with love songs and adding in some drinking, we hear “Still Good At Crying Over You,” the story of a man still heartbroken after a decade of suffering over lost love. On the other hand, “[He] thought we’d make a perfect pair, my charming wit and your red hair” is the story of a man moving on in “I’m Over You.”
They give us a fast moving instrumental with a Steffey composition, “That’s What She Said” and they reach way back for a Flatt & Scruggs number, “I’ve Lost You.” The CD closes with a gospel song by Rebecca (John Bowman’s wife) and Sonya Isaacs, “Prison.”
There’s a lot of very good bluegrass music available to us, but you won’t find a better CD anywhere.