Each of the first three (Bob or Danny) Paisley and the Southern Grass recordings I’ve reviewed required a mention of the ultra-intensity of the music, both vocally and instrumentally. It didn’t matter if the song was fast or slow. The relentless attack that seemed to give the listener little chance to breathe was always there.
This recording has much of that quality, but strikes me differently. Danny Paisley’s vocal approach and sound certainly have not changed. He’s still in there grinding, twisting words every which way, wringing emotion out of every syllable. But, whereas the band’s back-up and solos seemed an instrumental extension of what Paisley was singing, the current and completely revamped line-up, one featuring Mark Delaney on banjo, Doug Meek on fiddle, Eric Troutman on bass and vocals, and Michael Cleveland on mandolin, is more varied.
They still hit that Paisley sound often, as best exemplified here by “Road Into Town,” “Margie,” “I Overlooked An Orchid,” “Alcatraz Island Blues,” and “Cabin On A Mountain,” perhaps even on “Please Stop Falling.” Elsewhere though, they’ve widened the scope, softening the sound to a more relaxed, flowing feel at times, as on “You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover,” or adopting a unified bluegrass band sound, one that drives hard but is less frantic. “I Been Walkin’” has some of that, as does Delaney’s instrumental “Dancin’ With Sally.” In other places, they step outside that. “I Saw Your Face In The Moon” finds them in swing mode with freewheelin’ solos all around. “My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You,” sung here by Troutman, is a classic country shuffle and one of the best tracks here.
Where does that leave us? First, with an album that gives you room to catch your breath, but more importantly, with a Paisley album that ranks among their best. (Patuxent Music, P.O. Box 572, Rockville, MD 20848, www.pxrec.com.)BW