Straight ahead, no-frills lyrics and themes, all of them cloaked in contemporary bluegrass/country style, characterize the six originals on the new recording from The Roys. The steadfastness of the singer’s love in “You Can Count On Me” is as constant as ...the Mississippi runs to the ocean or as sure as …the Rockies touch the sky. Hearts are broken into a million pieces in “Half Of Me” and need to be swept up. “Another Minute” of time with a father who is ...honest and hard working is longed for. Similar basic thoughts and phrases are found in “Workin’ On It,” “Enough For Me,” and “Gypsy Run Away Train.”
The use of such concrete imagery can have a broad appeal for it allows the listener to bring to it their own experience, without complication or confusion. By the same token, such songs break little ground and generate little fire. In a sense, they settle to the middle, being listenable and somewhat appealing though, in many ways, lacking the qualities that grab the attention and make them stay with you.
To balance the recording, The Roys have (along with two contemporary-written, traditionally-based covers) programmed five bluegrass and country classics: “Blue Moon Of Kentucky,” “I Wonder Where You Are Tonight,” “He Took Your Place,” “Ramblin’ Fever,” and “Those Memories Of You.” Here the challenge is to offer meaningful renditions of songs extremely well-known. The results are mixed. “He Took Your Place” and “Ramblin’ Fever” work the best, bubbling with good will and energy. A long slow version of “I Wonder Where You Are Tonight” falls in the middle. The other two, though rendered in solid fashion, blending in the light, pleasant quality that is the Roys’ signature sound, are, in the end, just there—great songs that achieve their usual level of interest on their own merits, but have been infused with little that can take them any further. (Rural Rhythm, Box 750, Mt. Juliet, TN 37121, www.ruralrhythm.com.)BW