Once in a while, a debut project from a regional band will rise above the rest and stand out as one to pay attention to. The Railsplitters from Colorado certainly has caught my ears. This new project features strong songwriting, instrumental prowess, and expertly blended vocals. The band consists of lead vocalist Lauren Stovall (guitar), Leslie Ziegler (bass), Peter Sharpe (mandolin), and Dusty Rider (banjo and pedal steel). Guest musicians are Enion Pelta-Tiller (fiddle), and Andy Hall (resonator guitar).
While the group’s influences spread across genres as diverse a rock, country, Americana, and doo-wop, they are solidly based in bluegrass and the songs and arrangements show it. While folks will be familiar with Bill Henson’s “Lonesome Feeling” and Randall Hylton’s “Room At The Top Of The Stairs,” listeners will find the original material cleverly crafted and solidly arranged to give this group the notice it deserves. Lauren Stovall’s “Jackson Town” is a tribute to her Mississippi roots while “Boarding Pass (That’s The Way It Is)” is about relationships and features nice pedal steel from Rider. Other compositions are from Rider and Sharpe including “My World,” “No Stranger To The Blues,” and instrumentals “Evil Apple,” “Longs Peak,” and “Spray.” These showcase the aforementioned instrumental prowess as each member takes a ride and struts their stuff.
Rider and Sharpe both show that they can pick. Vocally, Stovall’s strong leads blend well with the band’s harmonies. This is high-energy bluegrass from the Colorado Rockies. Look for them to expand their area of influence. (www.therailsplitters.com.)BF