By Larry Stephens
Every two years is not often enough for singers like the Woolseys to release a CD. When I heard them in August 2014 I said they were very good. I’m not changing my mind. This CD uses the same crew of great pickers, minus Clay Hess, who’s no longer on mandolin. Back again are Randy Kohrs (resonator guitar), Tim Crouch (fiddle and mandolin), Mark Fain (bass), and Mike Sumner (banjo).
“Pike County Blues” is a good bluegrass number with Sumner’s banjo driving it along. It’s all about hard times and losing the family farm. The family farm line mentions “Highway 69,” a reference to the strong feelings many people in southern Indiana have had in recent times over I69 construction and the loss of farms and woodlands. Another good line is “I gave my heart to Jesus and I sleep with a gun.” Jim Woolsey composed all the songs with spouse Lynna co–compsong four of them. Together they wrote “Freedom” and gave it a haunting melody.
I didn’t do it for the glory
I didn’t do it for selfish pride
I did it for God and country
I did it for a way of life
I did it for our way of life
It’s dedicated to our veterans and all they suffered and continue to suffer after coming home. With his first release were stories of his father’s affinity for being on the road and he dedicates “Lights of Home” to all those who make a living driving the nation’s highways. Another home song is “Notes From Home,” co–written with Kerry Kurt Phillips. It’s the title cut on a CD by the Chapmans and John and Jeremy Chapman sing on this cut. It’s another sad one about loss and finding the truth after it’s too late. He stays with the hard times with the title cut, an ode to the people who lived through the Dust Bowl.
Woolsey is one of those talented people who consistently write excellent songs in melody and lyrics. There are no cuts where you hit the skip–ahead button. The pair write from the heart, songs like “Last Train Out,” a story about her late mother, Elsie, who often rode the train in her younger years. After she was afflicted with Alzheimer’s she would often ask them if it was time for the train. She took her last train out in 2013. They had some vocals help from other great artists, including Jim Lauderdale singing on “Time” with a kickoff by Kohrs on the Dobro; Craig Market co–composed and sings harmony on a song about good times and bad, but faith wins in the end and he tells everyone they’re forgiven “Just Like Me.” He also takes on a task not many care to try. Woolsey is a man of faith and had expectations of healing when he suffered serious injuries in a forty–foot fall as a teenager. In “Expectations” he sets Psalm 5 to music after reading it one day and he carries it off in style.
A range of depth and emotion and great writing, good singing, good picking. With Sirius XM and 95.9 out of Washington Indiana I don’t need CDs in my truck, but this one is going in there so I can listen to great music while I drive.