The music business is constantly changing in both delivery, format, packaging, presentation, and expectations. Bluegrass is no exception. With fans able to go to iTunes and Amazon and cherry-pick favorite songs by artists, it is becoming more and more the norm that there is no set number of cuts on a CD—especially by established bands.
The latest offering by the up-and-coming group Nu-Blu, offers evidence of this with their first all-gospel offering, Nail By Nail. The seven-song compilation is not a treasury of old-time favorites. Instead, it offers originals penned by well respected singer-songwriters. There are contributions from Donna Ulisse, Becky Buller, Nancy Cardwell, Tim Stafford, and Jon Weisberger, as well as credits from two of Nu-Blu’s husband/wife founding members.
It should be noted that this album is best taken in all at once; each of the seven songs seems to work integrally with the others to create a larger work. This is not to say the individual cuts are incapable of standing alone, but that there is a certain cohesion that the careful listener can’t help but detect. Sure to be among favorites is “Where Did You Get That Water,” a lighter tune that follows “Martha And Mary,” and “You See Jesus.” “Martha And Mary” offers the challenge for listeners, particularly female ones, to consider whom they most closely identify with, and is quite convincing. “You See Jesus” is arguably the strongest effort, again laying out the theme of choices.
Founders Carolyn and Daniel Routh, on bass/vocals and guitar/vocals, along with Levi Austin on banjo/guitar/vocals, and Austin Koener on mandolin are joined on five of the seven songs by Greg Luck on fiddle. Nu-Blu is just a couple of years removed from its debut album, Nights, and 2011’s Blu-Disc. A nice gospel effort was the only missing item on the band’s bluegrass resume, and Nail By Nail fits the bill. (Pinecastle Records, 2881 NC 108 Hwy. E., Columbus, NC 28722, www.pinecastlemusic.com.)MB