BLUEGRASS EXPRESS, IN OUR OWN WORDS
The Underwoods have been playing bluegrass for a long time. It shows in the presence of their playing and singing. They’re at home with the contemporary style they bring to the music. It actually harkens back to the sound that the Osborne Brothers brought to bluegrass. It’s no small coincidence that this band is named for one of their biggest hits. Although they don’t have that predominate lead tenor, they share many sensibilities with the brothers Osborne.
The title alludes to the fact that all of the material here is original. It’s an embarrassment of riches. The songs cover quite a range of subjects and manage to be different enough to keep things interesting. “It’s Raining Outside” sounds like the western part of Country and Western, while “I’ll Be Gone” and “Down In Tennessee” have the country side of things covered very nicely. Guest vocalist Bethany Burie sings on “The Key To Heaven,” otherwise the family handles all of the vocals with ease and elegance.
Sierra Hull adds her mandolin to “I’ll Be Gone,” but it’s Tim Crouch’s fiddle that really makes this set sound great. His fills and breaks fit right in with Gary Underwood’s guitar, Greg Underwood’s bass and guitar, and Jacob Underwood’s mandolin, banjo, fiddle, and guitar. Not to be forgotten, Andy Hatfield plays some mighty fine mandolin and guitar. All of the Underwoods sing. The arrangements all work well with enough punch and spot-on timing to keep everything interesting. With solid lyrics, strong harmonies, and well-thought-out arrangements, this recording should bring more recognition to a very good band. (Bluegrass Express, 1396 E. Menzemer Rd., Elizabeth, IL 61028, www.bluegrassexpressband.com.)RCB