Playing through the 13 songs of the follow-up release to the Grascals’ highly successful Life Finds A Way, it’s quickly apparent on many of the tracks that the drums have been brought forward a notch. Doing so does change The Grascals’ sound a bit, toughening it slightly and moving them a definite step closer to country and Americana forms.
Beyond that, however, the band’s approach remains much the same. They select predominantly good songs (particularly true among the first eight tracks), among them, a few from the late Harley Allen. They then play and sing with an engaging flow that brings a sense of contentment to both a light-hearted tune (such as the one in which a rambling husband claims all will be fine when he gets back because he’s “Mister Fix It”) as well as to the pathos of Allen’s tale of losing the support of a spouse in “When Your Rock Turns To Stone.”
“When I Get My Pay,” with its strong momentum and pointed, catchy tune and lyrics, is most likely the target cut with the most potential—crossover or otherwise. Vying with it is “American Pickers,” a tune not about bluegrass musicians, but rather a paean to the stars of the television show of the same name about guys who find treasure among trash—hence the picking. Dierks Bentley guests on that one. That’s followed by Allen’s wistful, Robert Frost-like tune about life’s choices, “Two Boys On A Dirt Road,” and then by the melodic 3/4 honky-tonk glory of “Are You Up For Getting Down Tonight.” Daryl Statler’s sweetly-tuned, memory song “Bluegrass Melodies,” along with the aforementioned “When Your Rock Turns To Stone,” round out the highlights.
Where the Grascals are headed musically, only they can say for certain, but so far, so good. (Crossroads Distribution, P.O. Box 829, Arden NC 28704, www.crossroadsmusic.com.)BW