TRINITY RIVER BAND, BETTER THAN BLUE
Orange Blossom Records
With their fourth recording, the Trinity River Band makes a subtle change. Where once they recorded three standards per album, here they only include one, a throttle-open rendition of “Mystery Train,” sung with great verve by the group’s principle lead singer, Sarah Harris. It’s a perfect vehicle for her bluesy and brassy vocal style. The next closest thing to a standard is the Irish traditional ballad, “Willie And Mary.” Trinity River gives that an appropriate coloring with whistle and octave mandolin backing. All the rest of the tunes come either from the band members two each from Sarah or Mike Harris—or from contemporary songwriters, such as Carl Jackson, Brink Brinkman, Holly Dunn, or Sarah Pirkle. It’s safe to say that there is not a weak track in the 12. Some are better than others, perhaps much better, but in all cases, each track has behind it high-quality instrumentation, vocals, and arrangement. Everyone can play and sing very well.
That said, some do rise higher than others, and that starts right at the beginning with the title-track opener, a bluesy Larry Cordle and Lisa Shaffer song about taking charge of your life. Trinity River plays this one with an infectious beat that is hard to resist and tempers it with some fine traditional soloing. That’s followed by Brinkman and Breedlove’s “A Sinner’s Prayer,” which creatively weaves full prayers into the narrative. Later comes two of the best on the record, the gorgeous slow country of “Faithless Heart” and the equally gorgeous 3/4-time flow of Pirkle’s “I’ll Love You Just The Same.” In between is a nice rendition of Dunn’s nostalgia tune, “Daddy’s Hands,” sung very well by fiddler Brianna Harris.
With a strong baseline of quality and several excellent spikes, this is an engaging recording throughout. (Trinity River Band, 34647 Old Baldwin Rd., Callahan, FL 32011, www.trinityriverband.com.)BW