Dry Branch Fire Squad: “Echoes of the Mountains”

The title is telling -  “Echoes of the Mountain,”

This CD takes a sweep across time from pre-bluegrass to the present, holding true to the authentic feel of the Appalachian styles that gave rise to traditional bluegrass. This is achieved by choice of instruments, voices, and lyrics. There are two cuts done with a minimal old-timey backup, frailing banjo style and, in a word, are haunting. These evoke a true pre-bluegrass “mountain” feel.  

There are a couple of tunes with lyrics of men gone west to become cowboys, missing the old-home place, done in a straight ahead bluegrass style. Then some excellent gospel tunes done with four part harmony, holding true to the religious influence on bluegrass music. My favorite cut on the album is one of the gospel tunes originally recorded by the Monroe Brothers, a song titled “Little Joe.”  This song reminds us today of how much more challenging childhood was in the past in the USA and, in fact, still true in many parts of the world today.  Many other songs, but the last I’ll mention, another favorite, is the ballad Rovin’ Gambler.

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“Little Joe”

The playing and singing on this CD is really tasteful. Breaks reflect the melody, and the harmonies are tight. I believe it is the handy work of Ron Thomason, the leader of the band, to pick songs with lyrics that often have meaning or message that reflect his keen sense of understanding of the human condition. Pop and popular just don’t compute for him, and for listeners like me I hope he keeps right on picking them the way he does. This CD is highly recommended.

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