Dailey & Vincent
Brothers of the Highway
5 stars (out of 5)
By Aaron Keith Harris
Dailey & Vincent started at the top with their 2008 self-titled debut, and their string of great recordings continues with Brothers of the Highway, an 11-track mix of familiar old-school tunes, a couple of original compositions from Dailey, and a few guest star pickers to occasionally supplement the regular lineup of Dailey on guitar, Darrin Vincent on bass, Jeff Parker on mandolin, Jessie Baker on banjo, and B.J. Cherryholmes on fiddle.
“Steel Drivin’ Man,” a new take on an old topic penned by Dailey and featuring Bryan Sutton on guitar and Andy Leftwich on fiddle, is a dream for bluegrass deejays in search of a new track to kick things off with. It’s really fast, has lots of dynamic range, and carries the soaring Osborne Brothers-style harmonies that Dailey & Vincent has perfected, making it one of the duo’s very best recorded tracks.
“Back to Jackson County” is Dailey’s other new song on another familiar bluegrass theme—longing for home. It’s fresh and fun, avoiding the false sentiment that often make these songs fail with Dailey’s sunny personality buoyed by the lively band.
The well-known country/bluegrass material—including Bill Monroe’s mournful “Close By,” Wilma Lee Cooper’s break-up tune “Tomorrow I’ll Be Gone,” Pete Goble and Leroy Drumm’s rustically nostalgic “Back to Hancock County”—is perfect for a group that specializes in making the classics sound modern without watering them down.
Two covers are especially inspired: Porter Wagoner’s “Howdy Neighbor Howdy,” which perfectly meshes with the group’s genial presence on stage and in studio, and “When I Stop Dreaming,” the best-loved Louvin Brothers duet that I can say—without blaspheming—is every bit as good as the original. Not better, but just as good. No kidding.
Gospel aficionados will be pleased by “Won’t it Be Wonderful There,” another seamless blend of the bluegrass and Southern gospel styles, with the group’s remarkable bass singer Christian Davis in full effect.
“Where Have You Been,” written by Kathy Mattea, is the sort of tear-jerking acoustic ballad that I just don’t care for no matter who writes or sings them, but hearing Dailey shifting styles and backed by a string section was interesting enough for me to not deduct points.
Which brings me to the title track, a truck driving song previously recorded by George Strait. It has all the features of “Steel Drivin’ Man” but with what I immediately thought was the best song about truck driving I’d ever heard (I hadn’t heard Strait’s version, but my grandfather was a longtime truck driver, and I just realized am typing this review in the exact spot in the room in which he died a few years ago).
No use me describing this remarkable song—and album—any more, just get it and hit the road with the best bluegrass band going blasting through your open windows.