Review: Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice- Trouble Follows Me

Junior Sisk’s latest release Trouble Follows Me is solid. The singing, picking, production and song selection is all there. For starters, it doesn’t hurt that Junior Sisk could probably sing the phone book and it would sound good. He just has an honest, classic bluegrass delivery that explains why he was named 2013 Male Vocalist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association and 2013 SPBGMA Male Vocalist of the Year (Contemporary). He has surrounded himself with a top notch band including Jason Tomlin on bass and vocals; Jonathan Dillon on mandolin and vocals; Billy Hawks on fiddle and vocals; and Jason Davis on banjo.

“Honky Tonked To Death”

The CD opens with “Honky Tonked to Death,” a hard driving straight ahead traditionally themed song that sets the tone for the whole album: – good vocals, tight harmony and solid picking. It’s on the next number -” Don’t Think About it Too Long,” (written by Ronnie Bowman) that the CD really takes off. Its just a good medium tempo song with a three part chorus that you can’t help sing along to. It was also on this cut that I started to realize that Jason Davis is one hell of a banjo player. He kicks off the number with a Scruggs inspired banjo intro that just sparkles. The rolls keep going through the song and just pop – crisp, fluid with a bounce. The mandolin and fiddle breaks cut pretty good too. The whole CD has good, solid traditional picking. Junior Sisk handles all lead vocals except for Jason Tomlin singing lead on “What Am I Doing Hanging Around” by Michael Martin Murphy. From what I can tell, the material is all relatively new traditional sounding songs with a few exceptions. There is a cover of the country hit “All I Have to Offer You is Me.” (Charlie Pride’s first #1 hit song). The only bluegrass “standard” is a good cover of the Stanley Brother’s “Our Darling’s Gone.” There is even a contemplative Tom T. Hall song “Walk Slow.” Overall, there is a good mix of tempos, and it is clear the whole band can sing from the a capella gospel number “Jesus Walked Upon the Water.” Junior Sisk’s songwriting skills show on the title track and album closer “Trouble Follows Me.” It’s a good driving song that gets in a good story about guy whose farm is foreclosed, he robs a bank, goes to jail and is getting ready to be transferred “back home” to a new prison they are building where is farm used to be.

If you like traditional bluegrass and are tired on listening to the recordings that are 40 or more years old, this CD is for you. No gimmicks. Just good, straight ahead bluegrass. I’d recommend it.

David Gandin

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