By Larry Stephens
This CD is set for release in January, 2016.
The Grascals have dabbled in embellishments to bluegrass. In 2010 they released Country Classics With a Bluegrass Spin, which featured guest spots by several country music stars. Their last CD (and the last with Jamie Johnson), When I Get My Pay included percussion and a steel guitar. This time around they stay bluegrass–centric and I like the approach. One takeaway for me is Terry Smith should sing lead more often. He sings lead on “Old Friend of Mine” (Billy Smith, Alan O’Bryant), a song about remembering the past and saying goodbye that will touch your heart.
Don’t feel bad for me, I’m doing just fine
The only ones hurting are the ones left behind
But that’s not forever, the hurt heals with time
I’ve got to leave you, old friend of mine
It couldn’t be said better. Smith with Terry Eldredge and newcomer John Bryan team up with an excellent blend of voices on the harmony parts. Smith and Eldredge are both veterans of the Osborne Brothers band and Eldredge shares most of the lead vocals with Bryan. Eldredge sings lead on “Road of Life,” an enjoyable song that reminds me (is it just me?) of several Grascals’ songs from the past.
The instrumental work is, as always, excellent. Kristin Scott Benson plays banjo, Danny Roberts adds mandolin, and Adam Haynes is their fiddler. Benson has been IBMA banjo player of the year four times and a Grascal since 2008. Roberts has been in the bluegrass business since the early ’80s and a Grascal since 2004. Haynes has traveled between several top name bluegrass acts, including Melvin Goins, David Parmley and Continental Divide, Larry Stephenson, and Grammy-nominated and IBMA award winning artists James King, Dailey & Vincent, and Grasstowne. You can enjoy the interplay of their instruments on Roberts’ “Autumn Glen.” All three are in the top tier of bluegrass musicians.
Bryan is a veteran of Larry Efaw’s Bluegrass Mountaineers. He has a an excellent tenor voice and does a great job on a Bill Monroe classic, “Highway of Sorrow.” Other well–known composers on this CD include Bill Castle (“I Like Trains”); Harley Allen (with Blly Smith, “True Hearts”); Carl Jackson (with Russell Morrell, “Warm Wind”, featuring great three–part harmony); Carl Jackson and Larry Cordle (“Delta Queen”); and Joe Diffie and Lonnie Wilson (“If You Want Me To,” a 1989 hit for Diffie).
One way I measure a CD is how many tracks go on my list of “I have to learn that one.” And Then There’s This… scores high. I’m looking forward to Bean Blossom and hearing them live. Until then, I have the CD, and so should you.