For all of us Bluegrass aficionados, there is the old joke about loving music, bluegrass and our instrument of choice, but don’t give up the day job if you enjoy the bacon, eggs and other goodies which are the fruit of the day job. Charlie Sizemore has put a slightly different spin on it all–he started out with a solid music career and than, upon leaving his “other job” of 9 years with Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys, went off to college and earned a law degree. With that knowledge, the third cut on the CD “No Lawyers in Heaven” makes a bit more of a sardonic joke than it might otherwise. The refrain “may there be no lawyers in heaven” lets one wonder if he had a poor experience in law school or the practice of law. Or in his own divorce? Or if having a paying “night job” makes it easy to gently mock his non-musical side job of lawyering. Bluegrass has benefited from Charlie Sizemore’s decision to pursue his vocal and guitar skills, and the public has one more lawyer to abuse (Q: what is one lawyer at the bottom of the ocean? A: a good start!)
“Walking The Floor Over Me”
Backed up by Josh McMurray on banjo, Matt DeSpain on resonator guitar, Danny Barnes on mandolin and John Pennell on bass, Sizemore puts out a solid, resonant and heartfelt bluegrass collection (can’t call them records anymore, can you?) of 14 songs. His voice is clear and distinctive, and fits well into the bluegrass genre. His voice blends well with that of his old boss Ralph Stanley on one cut, “Red Wicked Wine.” Once you have heard Sizemore’s voice you will always recognize it.
With a lineup of songs from a number of country-bluegrass writers, each song has it’s own sound and character. They are all true to bluegrass with good instrumentals and solid arrangements. A fine blending of instrumental sound is heard on “Fords of Pittman,” with each instrument holding it’s own but blending into the song’s total feel. And with a Tom T. Hall song, “Pay No Attention to Alice” the CD shows Sizemore’s more contemplative and gentle side.
His cover album of Tom T. Hall’s songs (2002) showed his ability to take a song writer’s work and make it his own, while being true to the original music and words. With the “Heartache Looking for a Home” inclusion of two public domain classics shows Sizemore’s attention to the roots from which today’s bluegrass has sprung.