Fresh Sounds in the World of Bluegrass: April/May 2013

By Taylor Coughlin

Tina Adair Band, Born Bad: Fronted by a force (read: voice) to be reckoned with, Tina Adair Band comes barreling out of the gate on Born Bad. Full of songs bolstered by confidence and attitude, TAB display virtuosity and variety, melding traditional, bluesy ‘grass with a soulful, country-rock style. Tina’s songwriting, singing, and playing are all signature to her talents as a well-rounded music creator, and her team of high-esteemed musicians is well paired. Key tracks: “Born Bad,” “Farther Along,” and “Snaker Dan.”

(www.tinaadairband.com)

Vincent Cross, A Town Called Normal: International roots-oriented musician Vincent Cross infuses bluegrass with country, blues and folk, and a wealth of solid songwriting in this new album. Cross’ voice is humble and rings true with fitting emotion in each piece. The songs draw from both traditional and contemporary influences, maintaining an authenticity throughout. Key tracks: “Walking on the Outside,” “Turn Your Eyes,” and “Sometimes.”

(www.vincentcross.com)

Rebecca Frazier, When We Fall: With her reputation as one of bluegrass music’s best female flatpickers, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Rebecca Fraziers’ new record has been highly anticipated. Frazier dives deep into her own written material, with a little help from her husband, John who plays mandolin. Frazier’s slick guitar instrumentals shine, while emotional vocals set the tone for this bright, inventive album from a division of Compass Records. Key Tracks: “Better Than Staying,” “Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow,” and “Babe In Arms.” Out May 28.

(www.rebeccafrazier.com, Compass Records)

Della Mae, This World Oft Can Be: On their Rounder Records debut album, the five females of Della Mae prove their wicked talent, fresh appeal, and powerful chemistry with This World Oft Can Be. While honoring tradition, these fine musicians showcase their collective and individual creativity, honing in on their ability to play emotionally potent, smart, and richly textured music. With Bryan Sutton as producer, this album is poised for the top of the charts. Key tracks: “Empire,” “Turtle Dove,” and the title track “This World Oft Can Be.” Out May 28.

(www.dellamae.com, Rounder Records)

John Reischman, Walk Along John: Cultivating a big sound with a small instrument, veteran mandolinist  and Canadian John Reischman displays sharp expertise and passionate know-how on his first solo instrumental album in 13 years. A melodic craftsman, Reischman proudly wears his influences on his sleeve, while owning his creativity and imaginative detail. With a mix of traditional and original tunes, Reischman plays with wit and taste on Walk Along John. Guests include Chris Thile, Kenny Smith, Tony Trischka, Bruce Molsky, the Jaybirds and more. Key tracks: “Gold Mountain Blues,”  “Joe Ahr’s Dream,” and “Little Maggie.” 

(www.johnreischman.com, Corvus Records)

Don Rigsby, Doctor’s Orders: It’s simple: Don Rigsby has a hero and idol in Ralph Stanley, and he shows his admiration deeply through his latest record, a tribute to the Doc himself. On his sixth solo project, Rigsby pays homage to Stanley with 13 covers of Stanley and Stanley Brothers material, with one new song aptly named “The Mountain Doctor.” And yes, Dr. Ralph Stanley humbly graces the album, along with some former Clinch Mountain Boys, including Ricky Skaggs, and more. Key tracks: “The Daughter of Geronimo,” “Brand New Tennessee Waltz,” and “Six More Miles.”

(www.donrigsby.com, Rebel Records)

Peter Rowan, The Old School: One thing is for sure: When you hold a legacy such as Rowan, you’re bound to produce nothing short of intensely rich, and bar-setting music. Rowan’s latest project is a powerhouse of original works, and a finely tuned ‘O Freedom’ with a bevy of the genre’s best like Del McCoury, Bobby Osborne, Jesse McReynolds, JD Crowe, Bryan Sutton, Stuart Duncan, The Travelin’ McCourys, and many more. With vivid imagery and sharp lyricism, The Old School is the cool school, with plenty left to teach. Key tracks: “Keepin’ it Between the Lines (Old School),” “Doc Watson Morning,” and “Letter From Beyond.”

(www.peter-rowan.com, Compass Records)

Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, On the Edge: IBMA 2012 Emerging Artist of the Year nominee Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen has a hot new dish with On the Edge. The band’s highly-anticipated sophomore album shows off their undeniable vigor and solid precision. With delicious support from Tim O’Brien, Rob Ickes on resonator guitar, and vocalist Megan McCormick, Frank & Dirty Kitchen show off skill and serve up fun in an inventive, fresh new grass dish. Key tracks: “M80,” “Gone,” and “Bedrock.”

(www.dirtykitchenband.com, Compass Records)

The Boxcars, It’s Just A Road: With rich melodies written by Keith Garrett and Ron Stewart, and old tunes with a new spin, The Boxcars’ new album features their best work yet. The two-time and reigning IBMA Instrumental Group of the Year gets down to business, exploring troubles and triumphs in each song. They aren’t afraid to get a little personal, and no surprises here: show off their impeccable musicianship. Key tracks: “It’s Just a Road,” “The Devil Held the Gun,” and “Cornelia.”