Each of these three new CDs provides a good bluegrass listening experience. And each does it in a different way.
The only seven-time consecutive winners of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Vocal Group of the Year award, the IIIrd Tyme Out players know what theyre about at every step. They exhibit finely blended vocals, masterful guitar, fiddle, banjo, bass, and mandolin, and nice rhythm and tempo variety. The 15 tracks include two new ones, the rest coming from the group's 1995-1999 albums. Song topics are conventional, but the band performs with great polish. The two previously unreleased tunes, interestingly used to open the album, provide a fresh start for longtime listeners.
Dailey & Vincent debuts the Jamie Dailey/Darrin Vincent team -- young veterans of great bands blending their voices magically with support from fine backup musicians. Opening with A.L. Woods "Sweet Carrie," played so fast it sounds like the train might jump the track, they go next to a slow one, then find a perfect heel-bouncing rhythm and tempo for "Cumberland River" by Randall Hylton. Three of the 12 tracks feature only Dailey & Vincent singing and playing -- tribute to a convention of past duets they learned from and admire. The content of these songs is pretty risk-free, the energy going into the fine sound they achieve.
Through the Window of a Train, the eighth album by celebrated Blue Highway, has 12 original tunes, mostly by Shawn Lane and Tim Stafford. Staffords "Two Soldiers" pays tribute to those in uniform who show up at soldiers homes when the worst has happened. It illustrates how this band goes outside the typical bluegrass topic box more than IIIrd Tyme Out or Dailey & Vincent. Lanes powerful "Where Did the Morning Go?" even dares to suggest that we consider whether we waste our time while important things pass us by. These guys sing and play beautifully together. They might not share IBMA vocal honors, but theyve twice been nominated for a Grammy.
All three of these discs are good, but Through the Window of a Train is the most interesting.
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