RONNIE RENO, LESSONS LEARNED
The mood of Ronnie Reno’s latest is thoughtful, sentimental at times, wistful at others, the presentation relaxed. Nothing feels hurried. That includes the solos from Mike Scott on banjo, John Maberry on mandolin and Steve Day on fiddle. Several of the songs are at a quick tempo so, of course, the solos and backing are going to move along, but the attack remains fluid and always in step with Reno’s lead delivery, which is always gentle and sort of behind the beat, more akin to traditional country than to bluegrass.
Reno wrote nine of the eleven songs. The two he didn’t are “Trail Of Sorrow,” written by his father, and a bonus track cover of “Always Late,” sung with David Frizzell and recalling Reno’s time with Merle Haggard. In fact, the faster, straighter beat of “Always Late” shoots a direct line back to the way Haggard liked it. It almost goes without saying that if you like one of the songs here, you’ll probably enjoy the album as a whole. The songs are well-written and distinct enough, and the tempos do run the usual gamut from slow to fast, but a mood is a mood and the one Reno establishes here does carry from track to track, giving them all if not a sameness, then certainly a kinship.
That said, several of the tracks do rise a bit higher than the others. “Lower Than Lonesome,” an uptempo, drum-propelled (as all the tracks are) number about lost love, is quite good. The title-track, which follows, also has an attractive medium bounce and a nice message about getting along in a marriage. The romantic notions of “Deep Part Of Your Love” and “All That’s Worth Remembering,” both medium in tempo and both very tuneful also standout. And of course, it’s hard not to like any cover of “Always Late.” A fine celebration of Reno’s sixty years in music. (Rural Rhythm, P.O. Box 750, Mt. Juliet, TN 37121, www.ruralrhythm.com.)BW