Flatland Drive is a five-piece, predominantly traditional-based band from Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore, featuring banjoist Curt Fox, mandolinist Brad Turner, reso-guitarist Alan Rausch, guitarist Lee Collins and bassist Rodney Collins. Everyone sings and everyone writes. Who sings what, the notes don’t say, though there are at least two distinct leads, one deeper and wizened, the other smooth and tenorish. As for who wrote what, the notes say all 13 tracks were a collaborative effort.
The results of that collaboration are a bit up and down. Several are fine songs, well-formed and memorable. Others struggle with clichés and static melodies, though none drop below average, regional-band quality.
The recording opens and closes well. “This Is Living,” the opener, is a medium, loping catalog of the joy the singer finds in his life (wife, kids, job, playing music on the weekends). Aside from its message of good values and its gentle melody, there is the repeated use of the line: Man, that’s living. The way the singer snaps that off, in just the way you would in everyday speech, makes for a great hook. Closing the recording is the a cappella tune “Come Eventide,” a masterful blend of melody and call and varied response vocals. What a fine way to go out.
In between are a good migration song titled “Appalachian Miner’s Blues” (with simulated hammer blows), a tune honoring those who serve in the military titled “They Held The Line,” and “I Fear I Still Love You,” which opens slow and bluesy, but picks up and makes good use of a short bass ripple now and again. A few more tunes like those five, a little more attention to the sound and mixing, and this would have been a better recording. (Flatland Drive, 211 Weiner Ave., Harrington, DE 19952, www.flatlanddrive.com,)BW