Matters of the Heart
Following a well-received 2018 album (Reflections), the Tony Rook Band is back with a new release, Matters of the Heart. Rook wrote or co-wrote seven of the twelve songs on the disc. Louisa Branscomb contributed three. Banjo player Graham Sones, formerly of Monroe Crossing, wrote the strong instrumental, “Mud Fence Mending.”
There’s another nice, bouncy instrumental earlier on the project, the Rook-penned “Shot in the Dark.” Rook (guitar) and his bandmates Sones, Derek Birkeland (mandolin), Terry Johnson (bass) and Tom Schaefer (fiddle) do a nice job from top to bottom with this traditional bluegrass offering recorded during the pandemic.
Other strong numbers include “Following This Road,” “In a Room Full of Strangers,” “You’ve Been on My Mind” and “Waitin’ on the Rain.” Rook, whose job has taken him to Minnesota, has roots and strong influences from the North Carolina bluegrass scene. He credits his uncle, a Baptist preacher and professional mandolin player Bill Meacham as a major influence.
Rook played for a while in the popular Eno Ramblers and later Rook and Wood. He also had a solo album out in 2018, so it’s the first batch of new music for fans in some time.