I have heard of Dave Adkins over the last year or so, and I’ve seen Republik Steele’s name on a few festival fliers. But I admittedly didn’t focus on Adkins’ talent until I heard his voice on the recent Rural Rhythm Records Civil War-themed album God Didn’t Choose Sides. For all involved with that project, Adkins’ voice was a revelation. Now, on Republik Steele’s That’s Just The Way I Roll, we can all get a full dose of this outfit.
Adkins hails from southeastern Kentucky, an area known for its production of top bluegrass artists, both famous and not so famous. Like many musicians and future stars, Adkins did some time at Dollywood as a teenager. He drifted into rock and country music for a while, but eventually found his way back to roots music a couple of years ago. Let’s be clear, Adkins’ voice isn’t pretty. It is rough-hewn and powerful, thankfully bringing back the bluesy side of bluegrass that was somewhat lost when fellow Kentuckian and former SteelDriver Chris Stapleton left the genre for more rocking fare.
This new album is produced by Steve Gulley. The rest of Republik Steele includes Kenny O’Quinn, Danny Ray Stiltner, Matthew Cruby, and Wesley Wolfe. Special guests include Gulley on harmony vocals and guitar, more harmony vocals from Dale Ann Bradley, Don Gulley, and Bryan Turner, and Justin Moses on resonator guitar and fiddle.
The highlights include the title cut, the bluesy and upbeat call-and-response vocals of “Get ’Em Up,” the hard-driving Brink Brinkman bluegrass song “Laura Mae,” the Adkins original “Rio,” and Adkins and Bradley combining voices on a wonderful version of the David Loggins classic “Please Come To Boston.” (Rural Rhythm, P.O. Box 750, Mt. Juliet, TN 37121, www.ruralrhythm.com.)DH