Audie Blaylock and Redline
Rural Rhythm Records
4½ stars (out of 5)
By Larry Stephens
Audie Blaylock is one of many graduates from Jimmy Martin’s school of music. Martin, never one to mince words, must have been impressed by young Blaylock (who joined the Sunny Mountain Boys at age 19) because they were together for nine years. You can’t play them too fast or hard for Blaylock’s rhythm guitar playing and he has a bluegrass singer’s voice: some edge, uncultured (no Jim Nabors’ crooning here) but dead-on with each note.
“Hard Country” is meant to showcase the close relationship between bluegrass and what many call “real” country. Singers have chosen many songs supposedly of one genre and released them to fans on the other side and, if you listen close, you can hear elements of both genre in these songs. “A Real Good Way To Lose” has a fast tempo with the bass driving the song and underlined by Blaylock’s tenor voice. It sets the bar of musicianship high, something bluegrass fans simply expect. Band members Patrick McAvinue (fiddle/vocals) and Russ Carson (banjo) are both young and new to the bluegrass road, but they make their mark with this CD. Jesse Brock (mandolin; the Night Drivers, Lynn Morris and Dale Ann Bradley bands, Flamekeeper and a host of other stars) is recognized as one of the great mandolin players on the current bluegrass scene. Rounding out the recording group is Jason Moore ( Mountain Heart; James King), a great young bass player.
“14 Days” and “On the Road” are truck drivers’ songs with that distinct bluegrass beat, the bass pushing them along until you can almost feel your pulse jump to keep time. These numbers prove the point that there’s a difference between speed and drive. People outside bluegrass often think it’s all about breakneck speed but, while speed is sometimes an element, drive is most important. Another number with lots of drive is a Harley Allen number, “A Natural Thing” but the other Allen number is a slow ballad. Blaylock is known for his hard driving bluegrass but he does just as well with a heartstrings song like “Home Is Where The Heart Is.” The line “home is where the heart is and that’s why I leave it there” is one people should listen to—it would sure save a lot of heartache in the world and maybe a fewer songs about sitting at the bar and drinking my blues away. This song also has some beautiful harmony singing.
Speaking of heartache songs, the Louvin Brothers did some great ones. Ira Louvin co-wrote “Stormy Horizons” and it was recorded by, among others, Jim & Jesse. Another old number with a good arrangement here is “Philadelphia Lawyer.” This one has been recorded by a long list of artists on both sides of the bluegrass/country fence (I remember a Jim Reeves version) and Redline does it justice on this CD.
“A Grandmother’s Love” tugs at your heartstrings, especially if you’re a grandparent:
A grandmother’s love is greater than gold
She prays for her children with heart, mind and soul
Her heart can’t be measured, can’t be bought or sold
‘Cause a grandmother’s love is greater than gold
Blaylock can write as well as he sings.
Audie Blaylock has the credentials, the voice, the music and he keeps putting out CDs worth the money to own. This is one of them.