After four decades and nearly countless personnel changes, the Lonesome River Band remains as vital and energetic as ever on this robust 13-song outing, which features two new band members, Adam Miller (lead vocals and mandolin) and Kameron Keller (bass).
LRB’s impressive longevity owes in great part to bandleader and banjo master Sammy Shelor. As the only remaining long-time member, he’s made the band his own. Time and again he has proven brilliant when it comes to recruiting the best talent and keeping the flames of innovation alive while maintaining LRB’s core identity.
Shelor & company come barreling out of the chute with “Mary Ann Is A Pistol” (written by Dennis Linde), a buoyant ode to an irresistible tom boy featuring thrilling harmonies and a captivating minor-chord interlude.
Among the many other standouts is “Gabriel’s Already Standing” (Barry Hutchens and Jerry Salley), a spooky end-of-days gospel parable.
The title tune (Barry Hutchens and Will Hutchens), paints a painfully vivid portrait of a once vital hometown now reduced to vacant factories, boarded up storefronts and rusty railroad tracks. On a deeper level the song is also about the redeeming power of memory.
“Waitin’ On A Train” (Greg Preece) is a high-energy romp that bristles with lovelorn angst and romantic desperation. “Headed North” (Jesse Baker) is a similar fuel-injected breakdown about a man trying to put distance between himself and the scene of a broken heart.
Added to the mix are a pair of delightful covers: Jimmy Arnold’s “Jesse James” and Jim & Jesse’s tongue-in-cheek “Tell Her Lies and Feed Her Candy.”
Simply put, the title of this CD, Heyday, says it all. That’s where the band is right now. After all this time, LRB not only sounds as vital as ever, but quite possibly better than ever.