Archive for the ‘Pinecastle Records’ Tag

Dale Ann Bradley- Self-titled review   1 comment

Dale Ann Bradley Dale Ann Bradley Pinecastle Records

DAB

From its beautifully framed cover illustration through each note within its 36-minute running time, Dale Ann Bradley is an album to celebrate.

Having written numerous reviews of Dale Ann Bradley’s albums over the past 15 years, I am no longer surprised by the quality the East Kentucky native’s recorded music. Here. Here, too.

She is included in this annotated list of my favourites of the first decade of this century; she came in at #2! Also, at #6 on the same list. Recently elected to the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, Bradley is a perennial Female Vocalist of the Year nominee within the IBMA, and has received the honour on five occasions.

Again producing herself, as she did on the previous Pocket Full of Keys, Bradley has crafted a cohesive bluegrass album. Developing themes of family, belonging, and faith across its eleven tracks, Bradley sings with mountain-born conviction perhaps no more freely than on Bud Chambers’ gospel standard, “One More River.”

On Sister Sadie’s debut album of last year, Lenny LeBlanc’s “Falling” was given a bluegrass treatment; Bradley record’s his 1980 song “Champagne Lady” here, and the Louisiana-flavoured number works terribly well as a bluegrass song, thematically and musically, further elevated by Greg Blaylock’s Dobro fills.

More than any other thematic element, belonging appears to weave itself through most of Dale Ann Bradley’s songs.

The album opens with a new song co-written by Bradley, Ronnie Miracle, and Donna Sullivan, a heartfelt piece that shares a musical echo of “Me and Bobby McGee’s” free-spirited independence balanced with the aching pull of home. The song features Bradley playing cross-picking style guitar to excellent effect.

“Going Back to Kentucky,” a thoroughly contemporary Mark Brinkman and Tresa Jordan song celebrating the rejuvenating powers of home (and satellite radio playing The Stanley Brothers), is another performance highlight. “Blackberry Summer” is drips with emotion, but not syrup: Bradley’s forte is making us feel the emotional connection she solidifies within her music, and this is a prime example of her abilities.

Continuing this theme of familial closeness, and bringing the album to a close, is Bradley and Jon Weisberger’s “Now and Then (Dreams Do Come True)” on which Greg Davis (banjo) and Casey Campbell (mandolin) are given all the room they need to shine.

Vince Gill joins Bradley for The Stanley Brothers’ timeless “I’ll Just Go Away,” and if there was any justice left in the world of country radio…but we know there isn’t. [In a related aside, if you want to hear this song performed by Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys—featuring Keith Whitley—in a 1977 public television broadcast.] Heartfelt, without doubt. “This Is My Year For Mexico” was recorded by Crystal Gayle on her first album with slightly different lyrics than here, and The Rarely Herd brought it to bluegrass in the early 90s, but Bradley’s reflective interpretation of this ‘long goodbye’ is definitive.

I don’t recall if Bradley has attempted a four-part acapella number in the style of “Stand By Me” before, but this is certainly successful. Joined by frequent vocal partner Steve Gulley—who sings harmony on several songs, and takes a lead on the chorus of “Our Last Goodbye”—Debbie Gulley, and Vic Graves, an honest and true vocal showcase is presented, one devoid of artifice. This is a pure expression of faith.

Charlie Cushman appears on a pair of tracks, and Alison Brown  on one, but Greg Davis handles most of the banjo and is well-represents himself on the 5-string throughout. Tim Dishman contributes most of the guitar and bass while another member of Bradley’s touring group, Scott Powers, is the featured mandolinist on four tracks. Sister Sadie’s Deanie Richardson (fiddle and mandola) and Tina Adair (harmony vocals) appear on multiple songs, as does Kim Fox (harmony.)

Bluegrass doesn’t come better than this. Many years ago I wrote that Dale Ann Bradley was “as mountain as rock,” and my editor questioned me about such a term. I knew what I meant then, and listening to Dale Ann Bradley, I still do. No one is capable of doing what Bradley accomplishes, and this album is ample demonstration of her revered status within the bluegrass field. Over the years, her music has become more sophisticated, but at its core it remains pure and true.

A video of an hour-plus Bradley (almost solo) performance is up and features some new songs. It is an intimate performance that shows a most appealing side of DAB.

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Blue Mafia and Wildfire reviews   1 comment

I don’t understand why record labels and bands release ‘regular’ albums in December. For gift giving and year-end splurges, I understand the compilations, box sets, and special editions being released late in the year.

Pinecastle Records released two bluegrass albums in December, 2016. Both are really strong and distinctive albums, but weren’t heard until most of the ‘year-end’ lists were compiled. A shame because-a month after their release-they haven’t received as much attention as I think they deserve.

hangingtree Blue Mafia is one of my favourite bluegrass bands. I’ve yet to catch them live-living on the edge of the frozen prairies and forests of Alberta does have some drawbacks-but their two previous albums were immediately appealing. Their third release is just as strong, and is one that I’m going to be listening to a lot as the next months unfold. My review has been posted at Country Standard Time.

My review of their second album, Pray For Rain, is posted here. My Cold Heart, one of the finest bluegrass debuts I’ve reviewed, is written about here.

wildfireWildfire is a group I’ve been listening to since their first album was released in 2001. They have undergone all sorts of lineup changes over the year, but Robert Hale and Curt Chapman have been the consistent members and have just released their fifth recording. My review has been posted at Country Standard Time.

An excellent start to the 2017 bluegrass season. Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Grascals, Honeycutters, Travers Chandler, & Sister Sadie- lost/found   Leave a comment

Starting the ‘year-end’ process, and in doing so I found a couple reviews posted elsewhere that I didn’t link through here at Fervor Coulee.

Very early this year, The Grascals released their eighth album ..and then there’s this. Country Standard Time published my review. It was a great way to start off what turned out to be a better than typical year of bluegrass albums. grascals

This summer, The Honeycutters knocked me out with their exceptional album On The Ropes. That review was published at Lonesome Road Review. the-honeycutters-on-the-ropes

Travers Chandler’s Archaic was released a few months back, and my review was published over at Country Standard Time; the typo is likely entirely my own danged fault. Some good ones on here, but a couple clunkers, too. archaic

Finally, can’t believe I missed putting up a link to one of my favourite albums of the year, Sister Sadie’s debut release. What a set- over at Country Standard Time.

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Careless on my part- sometimes it is hard to keep up. Best to you- listen to some roots music. Maybe even buy it! Donald

Blue Mafia- Pray For Rain review   1 comment

untitledBlue Mafia Pray For Rain Pinecastle Records

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

An Indiana-based bluegrass outfit, Blue Mafia returns with their sophomore album. Their stealthy, self-produced debut My Cold Heart was a bluegrass highlight of 2013, notable for its creative songwriting, strong vocal execution, clear production values, and fine instrumental balance.

Those elements remain within Pray For Rain, and this album meets the rising expectations that come with a second release. Admittedly, the album didn’t hit me upside the head as My Cold Heart did; that could have at least as much to do with me as it does Blue Mafia.

Dara Wray, who wrote the majority of the material on the previous album, has only three songs on this set. Of these, the title cut (sung by Kent Todd) may be the most complete: the harmonies, a band strength, are especially appealing here, while the song’s loping, change-of-pace gait is appreciated. “One Bad Day” is appealingly dark with “Consider It Goodbye,” a kiss-off song, having a challenging rhythm and lively arrangement.

The quintet’s lineup remains consistent. Cody Looper continues to make a positive impression on the 5, and Todd’s fiddling enlivens many a performance while Michael Gregory’s bass playing is simultaneously solid and unobtrusive. Meanwhile, Dara and Tony Wray share the lead vocal work with Todd while also handling the mandolin and lead guitar.

Mainstays from the  Stanley Brothers (“I’m Lonesome Without You” and “East Virginia Blues”), Peter Rowan (“Moonshiner”), and Pete Goble and Leroy Drumm (“I’d Like To Be A Train”) are skilfully presented; these familiar songs may draw some listeners to a still-relatively under-known band, but those already committed to the group may initially be disappointed with this reliance on outside material.

However, it is with these songs that Blue Mafia prove themselves most adaptable. “Moonshiner” explodes out of the gate, “East Virginia Blues” is afforded an arrangement that is fresh and unusual, at least to these ears, and I don’t believe I’ve previously heard “I’d Like To Be A Train” given a female perspective.

Blue Mafia gained considerable momentum with the success of their first release. Pray For Rain should find them appealing to an even wider audience.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

 

Recent Roots Writing   Leave a comment

I haven’t done a great deal of writing during the past month, but I have placed a few pieces recently.

I posted my review of Phil Leadbetter’s new album The Next Move over at Fervor Coulee untitledBluegrass. With a bluegrass heart at the core of the album, Leadbetter and his many collaborators have created a wonderful disc that should find favour with those who are open to strong country influences. The reigning IBMA Dobro Player of the year has done very well here, and has enlisted strong singers including John Cowan, Steve Gulley, Dale Ann Bradley, Con Hunley, and especially Shawn Camp to give voice to the songs.

A few reviews went up at the Lonesome Road Review over the last month.

My take on Alice Gerrard’s new album Follow the Music is something you may be interested in if you appreciate strong folk music with an old-time bent. If you are not familiar with Gerrard, she has been a mainstay in the old-time music world for more than forty years, and prior to alicethat was without a doubt ‘a pioneering woman of bluegrass’ through her long association with the dearly missed Hazel Dickens. Not one to rest on her laurels, Gerrard has teamed with the principals of Hiss Golden Messenger to produce an album every bit as compelling as last year’s Bittersweet.

Fayssoux McClain may not be familiar to you, but if you have listened to the early albums from Emmylou Harris, you’ve heard her voice. Recording under her given name, Fayssoux has found a homealbumart with the Red Beet Records conglomeration- Peter Cooper and Eric Brace. If you are missing country sounds and tradition in the ‘country’ music of today, I Can’t Wait may be what you should be seeking.

Dublin’s I Draw Slow, beyond having a non-traditional sounding name for a bluegrass band also have a rather non-traditional draw slowapproach to the music. Still, there is something here that will be of interest to those who come to the music with rather open ears. I won’t be listening to this album as frequently as I do the music of James Reams, Flatt & Scruggs, or Dale Ann Bradley, but I found a great deal to appreciate within their album White Wave Chapel.

Walter Salas-Humara has been a central figure within the world that was once (for a few years) classified as alt.country, roots rock, or No Depression music. As the mainstay and chief songwriter for The Silos, Salas-Humara has released a whole lot of music walterover the last (almost) 30 years. Curve and Shake is his latest solo release, and it is a grand recording that I find myself returning to weeks after writing the review, a rare occurrence.

On second thought, I guess I have been doing enough writing these past weeks! Still, there are many albums sitting on the pile awaiting my attention- just need to find the time.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

 

 

Gold…In A Way- The Circuit Riders- Let the Ride Begin   Leave a comment

Over at Fervor Coulee Bluegrass, I’ve posted a new edition of Gold…In A Way, my once-in-a-long-while, but-still-semi-regular feature that takes a look back at an album I enjoyed at some point in the past twenty years.

CircuitToday, while doing some research on early-80s bluegrass bands, I came across The Circuit Riders’ album Let the Ride Begin, released in late 2006. The album is available digitally and at online retailers- this is the band formed by former members of The Country Gentlemen, and has nothing to do with the group of the same name that recorded in the ’90s or since.

I most likely hadn’t listened to the album since it was released, but had positive memories of it. Listening to the disc today, I appreciate the recording all the more.

My piece can be located HERE.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Gold…In A Way- David Parmley & Continental Divide: Three Silver Dollars   Leave a comment

untitledGold…In A Way is an opportunity for me to occasionally re-examine a bluegrass album that I believe deserves a second listen. This time out I look at David Parmley & Continental Divide’s 2009 album Three Silver Dollars. Featuring a title cut from Tom T. Hall and outstanding playing from Parmley, Dale Perry, Ron Spears, Ron Stewart, and Kyle Perkins, this was without doubt one of the finest albums of 2009. It stands up five years later. This link will get you over to Fervor Coulee Bluegrass, where the piece is published.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald @FervorCoulee