IDLETYMES, POOR MOUNTAIN HOME
Poor Mountain Records
Nearly thirty years as a band on any level doesn’t happen by accident. Southern Ohio and northern West Virginia’s Idletymes offers strong playing and singing with equal comfort on contemporary and traditional bluegrass material. Idletymes has developed into quite a good band and released this most enjoyable album Poor Mountain Home late in 2013. The ensemble acquits itself particularly well on new songs from Mike Evans (four titles) and Jason Davis as well as their own new resonator guitarist Bruce Jones. Most impressively, Idletymes has continued to refine and improve its sound through three decades of personnel changes.
The band members paid their dues with folks such as Dave Evans, Emma Smith, and Vern Gosdin and include two Flatt & Scruggs’ covers, but don’t mind experimenting as well. They must, however, have approached Poor Mountain Home with some melancholy since it is their first effort since the death of Gary Jarvis.
“Lorraine” by Davis has the instantly memorable quality essential to a radio hit. A love song from the perspective of an active firefighter tends to stand out. All four of Mike Evans songs (“Things My Daddy Taught Me” was co-written with Brink Brinkman) are solid contributions with the lead-off cut, “I Can’t Bare [sic] The Thought Of Losing You,” a cracking good bluegrass love song that deserves airplay.
The covers—all classics, unfortunately—also point out the ever so subtle distinction between an extremely good band like Idletymes and the very top strata of the genre. Their recording of “Wait A Minute” is flawless but lacks that extra emotional power of either the original or recent re-recording by the Seldom Scene. Similarly, the lovely rendition of “Today I Started Loving Her Again” fails to deliver the emotional punch of the original. That aside, Poor Mountain Home is a thoroughly enjoyable album. (www.idletymesband.com.)AM