Danny Paisley & Southern Grass
Road Into Town
4½ stars (out of 5)
By Larry Stephens
There are voices in bluegrass that can caress a ballad. David Parmley can. Randy Waller can, just like his late father Charlie Waller could.
Danny Paisley isn’t one who croons or caresses. His voice has a distinct timbre—sharp and pure—that you either like or don’t —I doubt many find a middle ground. (For classic country fans, imagine Webb Pierce singing bluegrass.) If you’ve ever seen him in person then you know he puts all he has into his singing, and I happen to be the half of our family unit that likes his music. (If you haven’t heard him before, you can hear track samples on his website.)
Road Into Town is thirteen songs that are a cross section of musical styles, at least in their original versions. Paisley loves to include classical country music in his performances and he has some great ones here. “My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You” has been recorded by many artists, including the aformentioned Pierce, but is probably most often associated with Ray Price back in his shuffle beat days. Bass player Eric Troutman (Country Gentlemen) and the band give us a good version here including a walking bass line. “I Overlooked An Orchid” also dates back to the 1950′s and Carl Smith; it was a later hit for Mickey Gilley. Listen to the bluesy fiddle into by Doug Meek. “I Saw Your Face In The Moon” goes way back, too, recorded by Justin Tubb, Webb Pierec and Mac Wiseman, among others. It’s a bit of bluegrass swing and guest artist Michael Cleveland provides a great mandolin break (he also plays harmony fiddle).
Homage is paid to his father, Bob Paisley with the fast moving “Margie” featuring a kickoff by banjo player Mark Delaney. “Alcatraz Island Blues,” a Delmore Brothers song, is driven hard by the band with a number of instrumental breaks. It fits Paisley’s style well, as does a Vern & Ray song, “Cabin On A Mountain” that should be a bluegrass standard. Another touch of the past is “I’ve Been Walkin’,” a Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass song.
Two instrumentals are included. “Dancin’ With Sally” was composed by banjoist Delaney while “Cherokee Shuffle” was written by Tommy Jackson (a member of Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboys and Red Foley’s Cumberland Valley Boys) and recorded by a bevy of artists.
From the title song (a coal country song of greed) to the closing song (“I Heard My Mother Call My Name In Prayer,” one of the great classic bluegrass gospel songs) this is a bluegrass CD. Danny Paisley has scored again.