Mountain Heart returns with its first music recording in five years that the band calls the “most emotional performance of the best batch of songs of our careers.” The latest line-up includes Molly Cherryholmes (fiddle and vocals), guitar prodigy Seth Taylor, multi-instrumentalists Jeff Partin (bass, reso-guitar, and vocals) and Aaron Ramsey (mandolin and bass), and the group’s main vocalist, Josh Shilling (guitar, keyboard). Shilling is also the chief songwriter and penned six of the tunes for the band’s ten-cut CD.
Ramsey sings lead on the Bob Dylan cover “Maggie’s Farm,” and he composed the instrumental “The Bad Grounds.” The band turned to a demo tape of songs Ronnie Bowman wrote for two cuts, “She’ll Come Back To Me” penned with Dan Tyminski and “Can’t Get Over You” written with Chris Stapleton. Mountain Heart also laid down tracks to the road-tested songs “Hurting,” “No One To Listen,” and “Have You Heard About The Old Hometown,” a pure bluegrass song with a contemporary style that fans loved during live performances. The title track “Blue Skies” has an embracing groove and harmonies with a positive message that Shilling says has become the new Mountain Heart mission statement. (I’m just looking for a good time / Set my spirit free / Ain’t got nothing but blue skies up in front of me.)
Unlike many CDs produced, this group of in-demand session players recorded the tunes live and let any slight errors, missed tunings, or extraneous sounds slide by. By meeting that challenge of vulnerability, Mountain Heart captured more emotions and dynamics in their music. It feels like you’re sitting on a front porch listening to them jam. (Compass Records, 916 19th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212, www.compassrecords.com)BC