Prime Tyme is the 16th album by this prolific multi-award winning band. Formed in 1991 in Cummings Georgia, the band consists of Russell Moore (Guitar & Lead Vocals), Steve Dillings (Banjo & Harmony Vocals), Wayne Benson (Mandolin), Justen Haynes ( Fiddle & Harmony Vocals) and Edgar Loudermilk (Upright Bass & Harmony Vocals).
Prime Tyme is largely a vocal album, featuring a strong lead vocal performance by Mr. Moore, a 3 time winner of the IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year with wonderfully balanced, rich harmonies provided by the other band members. The result underscores their 7 consecutive wins as the IBMA Vocal Group of the Year.
Top vocal tracks include “Goodbye Old Missoula,” “Whippoorwill,” “Big Muddy” and “Little Magnolia” which display the tight interplay between the lead and harmony vocals. “Moon Magic,” a surprise swing styled tune, highlighting the group’s versatility, while well performed, was somewhat out of context in this largely contemporary bluegrass collection.
Overall, these are extremely polished tracks by a group of guys that have been together for 20 years. To a man, they are excellent instrumentalists that weave melodic patterns throughout the songs. “Carroll County Blues” the only instrumental on the album, gives the players the opportunity to shine.
Among the tracks that I’ve found myself playing over again are “Old Kentucky Farmers,” the disc’s lively opener, with an intro reminiscent of John Hartford’s recording of “Poor Ellen Smith,” “Gonna Lay Down my Old Guitar,” a fine group treatment of the Delmore Brother’s classic, and “If Your Heart Should Ever Roll This Way Again,” a mid-tempo, traditional bluegrass tune with excellent harmonies.
The final track of the album, “What’s the World Coming To” is a soft lament which speaks out against the politicians and Wall Street-ers that control the country’s riches while carpenters and teachers struggle to get by. The intent is to bring the listener back to gentler times, when regular folks could get by and the fast pace of society wasn’t challenging God in our daily existence. Whether you agree with the song’s sentiment or not, I give them credit for making their case, however overly sentimental the result.
On the whole, Prime Tyme is a solid effort and should appeal to listeners of contemporary bluegrass.
Rural Rhythm Records