by Paul Lundgren
“Nominated numerous times for Male Vocalist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA), Junior Sisk is at the top of his game.
The opening track of The Heart of a Song aptly introduces what is to come. “A Far Cry From Lester and Earl” laments the drifting of bluegrass music from its traditions, quoting from other well-known bluegrass classics and presents its thesis with good humor. The band’s name, itself, refers to the choice to perform bluegrass in its traditional form.
The band consists of Junior Sisk on guitar and most of the lead vocals, Billy Hawks on fiddle, Jason Davis on banjo, Jason Tomlin on mandolin, and Tom Massey on bass. The varying combinations of band members singing harmony, with the sharing of some lead vocals and the inclusion of guest artist, Rhonda Vincent, on one track provide a varied sound which is distinctive but not repetitive or tiresome.
The themes will be familiar to bluegrass fans and include lost love, cheating, gospel and one instrumental. The Dixie and Tom T. Hall tune, “The Grave Robber,” provides the dark theme in an otherwise uplifting selection of songs. Expert instrumental performances are present throughout and are more in the form of tasteful backing in the context of the song rather than blazing solos.
This album will appeal to fans of traditional Bluegrass with its mix of strong harmony singing and tasteful instrumental backing. These ramblers have chosen not to stray from the traditions of Lester and Earl, Carter and Ralph, etc. and they carry on the tradition in a skillful and entertaining fashion.