I’ve always had a preference for live music, and if I can’t be there then a live recording is the next best thing. Live music leaves out a bit of the studio “shine” and lets you hear what the musicians can do in a more unscripted environment, and how their playing interacts within the band. While you do have the noise of an audience you also get to feel their enthusiasm… And as for both the performance and the crowds enthusiasm, it never hurts when your live recording takes place in you own stomping grounds 🙂
NewFound Road has evolved over the years, with Tim Shelton as the anchor. Tim’s voice combines his Tennessee drawl with the smoothness of a good southern bourbon, and he’s backed that up with a solid traditional bluegrass sound. Tim is backed on this set by the Booher brothers; Joe on mandolin, Jamey on bass, and both on harmony, along with Josh Miller on banjo, guitar, and lead vocals. Guest artist is Mountain Heart’s Jim VanCleve on fiddle.
This latest recording is a mix of the bands own material and covers, some of which you’ll be surprised to find on a bluegrass album, but none are at all out of place.
The album opens with “Try To Be,” a take on living right and one of the first tunes recorded by NFR. It’s followed by “These Days,” a Jackson Browne song that NFR turns into a sweet country ballad, and shows that the band is not afraid to find good tunes outside their genre and yet make them their own. Next up is “Blackadder Cove” by Josh Miller, not only is it a hair-raising murder ballad, it also shows what a fine fellow songwriter Tim has found in Josh. As a flip side to “Blackadders Cove,” “If You’ll Pretend” is a classic country/bluegrass love song co-written by Tim and Josh. There are more classics following – “The Room At The Top Of The Stairs” and Carter Stanley’s “Lonesome River.” “We Ain’t Going Down Without A Fight” is yet another bootleggers tune… but one of the band’s own and they fit right into the character of the song.
The biggest surprise of the recording is a cover of Dave Loggins “Please Come To Boston,” and yes, that old folk/rock classic comes off as a new bluegrass ballad. The second biggest surprise is the closer – the opening of “Ain’t No Sunshine” takes newgrass almost into the realm of arena rock… you just about expect to hear the guitars licks filled with distortion before the song swings back into a bluegrass/newgrass stomp, and you can tell both the band and the audience are having a blast!
I for one end up with my music split up, not so much by genre, but by what I happen to be doing. There are “work tunes” and “gym tunes,” and the best way to describe this album is “car tunes,” It’s taken up residence in my cars CD player, and it’s a treat on every drive.