PETE GOBLE & ANDY BALL BACK TO JUBILEE ROAD

PETE GOBLE & ANDY BALL
BACK TO JUBILEE ROAD

Moon Ridge Records
No Number

If the street map of bluegrass had a Tin Pan Alley, it’s safe to assume you’d find Pete Goble’s mailbox there. The composer of “Big Spike Hammer,” “Tennessee 1949,” “Colleen Malone,” and countless others has just released this wide-ranging collection of 16 songs, most of which are collaborations with the late Leroy Drumm.

On Back To Jubilee Road, he teams up with Andy Ball, formerly of the Lonesome River Band, as well as Goble’s band Jubilee Road. I suppose it could be considered understandable that a recording like this would focus on the songs, although the complete absence of any performer credits makes the listener’s (and reviewer’s) task a bit more difficult. It seems like Goble’s craggy voice and Ball’s keening tenor split the singing chores 50/50.

For all that, Goble’s songwriting hasn’t lost its range or adventurousness. From the seafaring ballad “Fiddlers Green” (recently covered by Tim O’Brien) to the Civil War lament “That Fork In The Road” and the murder ballad “Thief In The Night,” he continues to find new ways to spin off classic themes of the genre. And then there are the songs of hearts broken or about to break, of which he contributes some stellar ones. “Love Me As You’d Love The Rain” is a tasty morsel just waiting for some hungry band to grab on to, while “No Room Inside Your Heart” is a mournful variation on “Cold Cold Heart.”

What almost steered this review into the “On The Edge” category is the second cut, a full electric contemporary country arrangement called “All My Daddy Left Me.” It’s an abrupt programming shift, but an aberration on an album that is otherwise all straight bluegrass, concluding with a solemn rendition of Rob Mills’ gospel song “Come On In.”

No matter who Goble is playing and singing with, he is and always will be about the songs. So look at Back To Jubilee Road as a diverse and entertaining demo by a seasoned master of bluegrass songwriting. (Brandy Keg Music, 22422 Woodruff, Rockwood, MI 48173, www.petegoble.com.)HK

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