Fans of family bands in bluegrass should be heartened—and should get out their wallets—as they will find Stages, the third release from the Snyder Family Band, a must-have. There is a lot to like about this album—nice song selection, extremely high-quality recording, and nice presentation. However, all of that is superseded by the incredible, clear, crisp vocals of a 12-year-old girl, lead vocalist and fiddler Samantha Snyder. While any writer hesitates to hang a label on such a young talent by making comparisons to already established stars, it is hard not to be reminded of Sierra Hull, not far removed from pre-teen prodigy status herself.
Samantha opens the CD with the title track, a tune she penned, along with a gospel track that is not to be missed, “The Perfect Sacrifice,” and the instrumental “Creekslide.” It doesn’t take much to see how the young lady captured the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention title for bluegrass fiddle last year. Not to be overshadowed by the talents of his sister, 16-year-old Zeb provides strong work on guitar, alternating rhythm and picking that evidences why he is the reigning South Carolina State Guitar Champion. He wrote and showcases on the instrumentals “Goose Down Pillow” and “Sarah Joy.” Todd Rakestraw’s “Lord Don’t Forsake Me,” with vocals by Samantha and harmony vocals from her mother Laine, is the other gospel tune. An old traditional by Stephen Foster, “The Glendy Burke,” features vocals from the family’s youngest member, five-year-old Owen. Patriarch Bud keeps everyone in time with his solid work on bass.
This is a CD that gets better each time it cycles through the player. An instrumental of “I Am A Pilgrim” and “Angelina Baker” make for nice cover tune additions, and even J.J. Cale’s “Call Me The Breeze” (made famous by Lynyrd Skynyrd) makes it on to the album, as well as an instrumental written by Wyatt Rice.
With years yet to grow into their considerable talents, count on the Snyder Family Band to move outside of regional favorite and onto a bigger stage. (Mountain Roads Recordings, 3192 Hwy. 421, Bristol, TN 37620, www.snyderfamilyband.com.) MB