For those already pining for the summer acoustic music season, September 2013 shows us that the fall has plenty to offer as well, in the form of new release FLYING from Darin and Brooke Aldridge. Flying is the duo’s 5th CD release, their first on the Organic Records label. Featuring powerful, inspiring vocal harmonies paired with dynamic, supportive, and exciting instrumental backing, Flying delivers great performances of songs penned from a variety of composers. In this release, Darin and Brooke treat the listener to a variety of styles that build on, and move past their foundation of Bluegrass and Gospel acoustic music. For those new to the Aldridge duo, they are a married couple from Cherryville North Carolina, with a history of singing, songwriting, recording and touring. They were Emerging Artist nominees two years in a row by the IBMA, as well as SPBGMA Nominees for Gospel, Album and Song of the Year. Flying was expertly recorded at Crossroads Studios in Arden, North Carolina. This reviewer found it equally enjoyable on high end stereo equipment, in the car or on a portable music player.
Flying is aptly named. Much more than just a collection of good tunes, the ten included tracks feel like a carefully constructed tour with regular thematic nods to the experience of being in the air itself. Darin and Brooke’s marvelously paired vocals dip and soar in a variety of creative arrangements. Sometimes playful, sometimes serious, often invigorating, the vocals are well supported by Becky Buller on harmony vocals and Fiddle, Darin himself on Mandolin, Guitar and the Greek Bouzouki, Matt Love on Banjo, Collin Willis on Dobro, Dwayne Anderson on Acoustic Bass, Tony Creasman on percussion and Leah Bowen on harmony vocals. Bluegrass, country, gospel and modern acoustic styles propel the recording forward through themes of faith, love, strong relationships and the precious value of time. Light on its feet with an open-the-door-and-go! sense of freedom, Flying takes us on a refreshing excursion to places both familiar and new.
“Maybe Just A Little” sets the tone for the trip ahead with an airy, Country styled song that contemplates a relationship. Nice Dobro from Collin and sparkly clear mandolin from Darin reassures us that many an attractive instrumental break lies ahead. Next, one of many creative vocal arrangements has Darin and Brooke trading verses just like a natural conversation in “Love Speak to Me,” with a driving chorus that leaves the listener certain we are going places. Flying then takes an exhilarating turn with “Laurie Stevens” written by fiddler Becky Buller. Up-tempo, with traditional Bluegrass instrumentation, the song tells a tragic tale of Mother Nature’s strength in her spring mountain runoff. This line from the song – “You can’t stop the River Jordon, from going deep and wide” – raises the idea that perhaps more than just a warning around deep water might be in play here. “Trying to Make Clocks Slow Down” is the 4th track on Flying, and reminds us how we can’t control time, and that its moments are precious. I enjoyed the grandfather clock-like harmonics in the tunes opening. “Higher Than My Heart” is an upbeat, inspired commentary on the real value of love and relationship. A nice guitar break by Darin, more great dobro from Collin and the perfect blending of the vocal parts into a single cohesive whole make this 5th track one of the numerous examples of top quality performance and recording on Flying. “I Gotta Have Butterflies” gives us a restful breather with a thoughtful ballad carried by Brooke’s strong, clear voice. “Outbound Plane” lets us know the wheels aren’t ready to touch the ground yet with a solid modern rhythm and interesting harmony vocals accenting the verse. There is an excellent high quality video of this tune available on You Tube that is well worth watching:
Track #8, “To the Moon and Back,” finds us in playful territory with whimsical lyrics, a medium, bluegrassy tempo feel and some nice supporting guitar fills in between the vocals. This song as well as “Outbound Plane” before it illustrates the clever thematic references to flying throughout the recording. “Love Does” follows next with another medium tempo, but this song is nicely separated from the one before it by being a bit more serious. Finally, we end with “Little Bit of Wonderful” which leaves us on a positive, optimistic note, just like a soft landing after a flight. Great singing with supportive instrumental playing, well recorded and set against a nicely organized thematic backdrop, Flying is definitely recommended listening for fans of Country, Bluegrass, Gospel and Americana vocal music.