TRINITY RIVER BAND, HEARTSTRINGS
Orange Blossom Records
Not much has changed in the year since the last release from Trinity River. Certainly, there’s the obvious. The younger players, particularly Brianna Harris on fiddle, have another year of experience behind them. In that age range, such advancements can be huge. But predominantly the sound and focus of the band remains little changed. They’re still drawing on some familiar sources for material—Brink Brinkman for two tunes, Larry Cordle one—and still writing some of their own. Mike Harris wrote two, one solo (“Heartstrings”) and one (“You Can’t Walk All Over Me”) with his daughter, Sarah, who remains the dynamic focal point of the band, singing most of the leads and playing mandolin. Joshua also contributes a banjo instrumental, “Mindbender.” The band sound offers a blend of approaches drawn from traditional and contemporary bluegrass styles and colored with country angst, bluesy stomps, and Celtic lilt.
Their last record had quality throughout, with quite a few high points, and this one comes across in much the same manner. “You Can’t Walk All Over Me” makes for a saucy opener, and paired with the vibrant, playful cover of David Wilcox’s ode to big gas-guzzlers of yore, “Rusty Old American Dream,” garners them two highlights in the first three tracks. That’s followed by Cordle’s slow, anguished “Going Down Hard,” and a couple of tracks later by Brinkman’s country “Fences” about couples building walls between themselves. The bluesy grind of “How Blue,” given a kick by some funky soloing from Joshua and some vocal growls from Sarah, also deserve mention. I could have done without the opening patter on that one, but it’s brief. “Blue Mandolin” is also powerful. The gospel tune “Only Here For A Little While” closes out the record on a spirited note. Change is good. Continuity is good as well, particularly when you’ve found what works, and this works. (www.trinityriverband.com)BW