LONESOME RIVER BAND, TURN ON A DIME
A new recording from the Lonesome River Band. What more needs be said? Each new release is consistent and entertaining, and you can always find numerous excellent tracks among the good song selection and high-quality presentation. The group here is the same quintet that released Chronicles, the three-volume from 2012 and 2013 on which they gave fresh readings to old LRB hits. Sammy Shelor is mesmerizing and precise as always on banjo, guitarist Brandon Rickman sings warm and effortless leads, Mike Hartgrove fiddles convincingly in both contemporary and traditional styles, Randy Jones provides engaging tenor range leads and mandolin solos, and Barry Reed matches each shift of style with appropriate bass lines.
Several of the highlight tracks are bunched at the beginning, and several others are scattered throughout. “Her Love Won’t Turn On A Dime,” an anti-“Material Girl” love song, opens the album and has all the hallmarks of a chart tune. The melody is bright and full of hooks, the words memorable. Rickman’s vocals are dead on. That’s followed by the good bounce of traditionally-based and multi-tracked fiddle of “Gone And Set Me Free,” and then by a march-driven, modal tinted “Lila Mae.” The last of the opening standouts is “Don’t Shed No Tears,” which starts deceptively with a harmonized jazz riff, but gives way to a slow, southern-rock meditation on death. A couple tracks later comes a counter to the opener. This time the girl, “Bonnie Brown,” is more of a handful. Essentially this is “Liza Jane” with different words, but it works well. Two ballads, one a gorgeous Jones-led cover of Merle Haggard’s “Shelly’s Winter Love,” the other a slow, dreamy “Holding To The Right Hand” sung by Rickman, underscore that the LRB, after all these years, continues to be an impressive band. What more needs to be said? (Crossroads Music, P.O. Box 829, Arden NC 28704, www.crossroadsmusic.com.)BW