“Here to Stay” by Adam Steffey

Adam Steffey
Here to Stay
Mountain Home Music Company
4½ stars (out of 5)

By Steve Crawford

Adam Steffey has been here to stay for quite a while now—but to erase any lingering doubt, the 11-time IBMA mandolin player of the year has released his third solo album titled…what else…“Here to Stay,” a dozen songs with both modern drive and old-timey tones.

You don’t need to be a bluegrass junkie to be familiar with Steffey’s work. He was a mainstay, along with Ron Block and Barry Bales, in Alison Krauss’ Union Station from 1992 through 1998, and he has no less than five Grammy awards to show for it. The sweet tone he coaxes from his mandolin is possibly the finest among active players, and his voice, previously used as a foil to Krauss’ on both albums and at live shows, is deep, rich, and sincere.

“Mountain Man” starts off with that classic mandolin tone joined by the clawhammer banjo of Jason Davis. Although the album includes the well-known AKUS numbers “Cloudy Days,” “No Place To Hide,” and “Liza Jane,” Steffey here enlists Davis on banjo, Ron Stewart on fiddle, Aaron Ramsey on guitar, and old friend Barry Bales on bass for new recordings.

You’ll definitely find yourself singing along with the catchy “Dear John,” a reworking of an old tune Hank Williams used to perform. “The Town That Never Sleeps” is a song right out of Chet Atkins “countrypolitan” playbook. Add a snare drum and raise Steffey’s vocal an octave or two, and you could have a classic by the likes of Faron Young.

“Hell Among The Yearlings” is a mando-and-clawhammer piece that sounds like it came direct from Butcher Holler. And you know it wouldn’t have Adam Steffey’s name on it if the album didn’t include a spiritual number—he brings this fine project to a beautiful conclusion by playing a chorus of multiple mandolin parts on the instrumental “Come Thou Fount.”