Review: Lonesome River Band – Turn on a Dime

Well, it takes some kind of hubris to review an album from a band as successful as the Lonesome River Band, but here goes: this is an album well worth a listen. The band (Sammy Shelor on banjo and vocals, Brandon Rickman on guitar and vocals, Mike Hartgrove on fiddle, Barry Reed on bass, and Randy Jones on mandolin and vocals) is really everything you want in a bluegrass band – sharp, tight picking, lovely vocals and harmony, and great taste in songs.

The title track is actually not my favorite on this album. It’s fine: a bluegrass song extolling the virtues of a woman who doesn’t need a lot of money, but there are several that are so much better. “Shelly’s Winter Love” is really interesting, for example. A song that takes the cliché of a summer love and turns it completely upside down – a winter love, in which the singer bemoans not being needed when Shelly has her fair weather friends around. They make it really interesting by using both a light summer calypso-like syncopation in a very bluesy key.

“Cumberland Gap”

My very favorites, though, are their version of “Cumberland Gap,” “Don’t Shed No Tears,” “Hurting with my Broken Heart,” and “Holding to the Right Hand.” These four are just perfect, even if “Holding to the Right Hand” may be a bit too religious and comforting for some of you. And their “Cumberland Gap” may be one of my favorite recordings ever. This is just an album to really enjoy.

Robin Gustafson

Robin was raised on traditional, Appalachian mountain music, bluegrass music, and protest music. She has taken lessons in banjo and guitar although, sadly, these instruments did not get her to the Grand Ol' Opry. Instead, Robin sings in a choir here in the Hudson Valley, and she sing all kinds of harmony at Pinewoods Camp during the summer. When not singing, she is a cognitive scientist who studies how song and dance affect cognitive functioning.

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