As one of bluegrass music’s most legendary banjo players, Bill Emerson has a remarkable résumé of awards, accomplishments, and celebrated collaborations stretching back to the 1950s. This is the third album that Emerson, a co-founder of the Country Gentlemen, has recorded and produced with his current band Sweet Dixie. Not surprisingly, it displays the master’s touch at every turn and is propelled throughout by his stalwart and masterfully restrained rhythm and lead banjo work.
This seamless 12-track collection includes three high-spirited instrumentals composed by Emerson, along with various gems penned by Johnny Bond, Dolly Parton, and Stephanie Davis, as well as other assorted highlights. Lead vocals are handled by three different bandmembers with three distinct vocal styles—mandolin player Wayne Lanham, guitarist Chris Stifel, and bass player Teri Chism.
Particular standouts include “Today I Turned Your Picture To The Wall” (one of two songs penned by Pete Goble and a lovely showcase for Sweet Dixie’s vocal harmonies), “These Ones” (a high-strung instrumental composed by Emerson), and the powerful traditional lament “Little Pink.” Particularly memorable is the title cut, a folksy and philosophically poignant ballad written and movingly sung by guitarist Chris Stifel. (Rural Rhythm, P.O. Box 750, Mt. Juliet, TN 37121, www.ruralrhythm.com.) BA