New Day Dawning
Rural Rhythm Records
4 stars (out of 5)
By Larry Stephens
New Day Dawning, the new CD by brother-sister duo the Roys, has an easy feel to it. The songs are well written, the musicians are excellent, but the songs are more gentle, have a softer feel than the fine-grit sandpaper of, say, a Darrell Webb CD. That’s not bad, just different. They crack the mold with one hard driving song, “Still Standing.” Written by them (one or the other is a co-writer on every song), it’s a song about overcoming adversity. Sung by Elaine, it’s a wake-up after the two tracks that precede it.
Close relatives singing together often means great harmony and the Roys won’t disappoint you. Adding a third harmony voice is something they might consider to give their sound more variety.
They use a great selection of musicians to back them on the CD. Andy Leftwich (Kentucky Thunder) plays mandolin and fiddle, Randy Kohrs plays Dobro, Cody Kilby (Kentucky Thunder) on guitar, Mark Fain (Kentucky Thunder) adds bass and Justin Moses (Kentucky Thunder) is on banjo. While percussion in bluegrass is sometimes controversial, but hardly novel, it does seem more people are using it and they have Steve Brewster adding percussion on some numbers. Rounding out the group is Jeff Taylor (Time Jumpers) on accordion on two numbers and Luke Skaggs (Ricky’s son) playing baritone guitar on one song.
“My Living Scrapbook” is a song we can all take to heart.
My living scrapbook are the pages of my life
The years keep rolling but the moments are frozen in time
The older we get the more we appreciate the truth of that. Their title song is upbeat in tempo and message, talking about the things in life that get you down but things can turn around and a new day dawns. This fits well with their general theme of a positive outlook on life.
“Daddy To Me” is a poignant song, my favorite on the CD. It’s the story of a man who has died and his family and friends are gathered to remember him. We hear about the man from different perspectives of friends and family but, to the singer, this was his daddy. Listeners of any age can appreciate the song but I think being able to look back through your own years and losses brings a different outlook for songs like this. That’s also true of “Grandpa’s Barn.” Images of a rusty tractor, an old calendar, bits and pieces and memories … I know the song evokes memories and images in my mind and shouldn’t a good song do just that?
There are only seven cuts on the CD but it is priced right and provides good listening. If you can survive without murder songs and the piney hills of old Kentucky, you should listen to the Roys.