A Little Bit of Bluegrass
Lorraine Jordan and her band Carolina Road have maintained a solid presence in traditional bluegrass for decades, championing the genre’s essential elements while introducing and welcoming many new fans to the party. With their latest album, they deliver the talent and consistency we’ve come to expect.
Released last fall on Pinecastle Records (Jordan’s seventh for the label), A Little Bit of Bluegrass delivers a nod to the standards (“Molly Rose,” “Hickory Wind”) while also adding several new “classics” to enjoy. Just a few highlights include the well-written “Melinda,” by Jordan’s own hand; Buck Owens’ “Heartbreak Mountain;” and the blues-slaying title track, which reached #1 on the Bluegrass Unlimited Survey Chart (June, July).
For the title track, Jordan relied on songwriter David Stewart, who has provided her with number one hits in the past. Also by Stewart and cowritten with Brink Brinkman, “Just An Old Penny” is a title gleaned from Stewart’s mother as she was nearing the end of her days. It features poignant fiddling by Matt Hooper, echoing harmonies, and flawless cross-picking guitar by Wayne Morris. Stewart and Brinkman also contribute “Who’s Gonna Tell The Story,” a tribute to the legendary Tom. T. Hall that features the country crooning of lead singer Allen Dyer.
Dyer shines on several tracks, and Kevin Lamm’s traditional voice leads well on “Homesick For The Blueridge” and “Molly Rose.” Jordan’s vocals stand out beautifully, too, on “Hickory Wind” and the touching “Mama’s Cross,” a gospel number cowritten by Jordan and Donna Ulisse, who also supplies striking harmony. Derived from a place of truth for both of these writers, the song tells of a cross necklace and what it represented – both a keepsake and a message not to be buried (A special cross upon a chain of gold / a sacrifice the necklace always told).
Listeners will come away smiling upon hearing the fun, final song, “Carolina Pig Pickin’ Time,” written by Larry Nixon of Pinecone Bluegrass (radio show) fame. Every track brings infectious energy, tight harmonies, and the instrumental prowess of proven band members who are highly skilled on their respective instruments.
With all her efforts leading the band and producing and promoting bluegrass music the world over, Jordan’s notable mandolin talent might be overlooked, but that would be a shame. Her playing is foundational to the project, as is Ben Greene on banjo (2015 SPGMA Banjo Player of the Year).
From start to final fiddle finish, this album from Jordan and Carolina road is just what its title suggests: a fresh and lively bit of bluegrasser’s bluegrass.