“Songs of Heart and Home” by Greg Blake

Greg Blake
Songs of Heart and Home

By Aaron Keith Harris

As lead vocalist for Jeff Scroggins & Colorado, West Virginia native Greg Blake adds a healthy portion of mountain soul to that progressive bluegrass group’s sound. He quickly shows why many regard him as a first-rate traditional bluegrass singer by kicking off the 13-track, 44-minute Songs of Heart and Home, his debut solo album, with a stout take on the Stanley Brothers’ “Sweetest Love.”

Solid picking from a band that includes John Reischman (mandolin), Blaine Sprouse (fiddle), and Sally Van Meter (Dobro) and Blake’s tinge of mountaineer twang tie together well-chosen songs into a thematic whole, bringing the bluegrass treatment to songs from Johnny Cash (a propulsive “Hey Porter” and a plaintive “I Still Miss Someone”), Ian Tyson (“Summer Wages”), and Joe Diffie (“Home”).

Featuring guest vocal turns from Laurie Lewis (“The Hills of My Home”) and Claire Lynch (“Dreaming of a Little Cabin” and “Turn Your Heart Toward Home”), Greg Blake’s Songs of Heart and Home is one of the better traditional bluegrass albums of 2015.