Johnboy and Billy 2013
I have been putting off writing this review and driving around listening to Terry Baucom’s rock solid Never Thought Of Looking Back for weeks. Since the album is such a great listen, I didn’t have much incentive to stop listening and, thus, start writing. I even asked Bauc what to write, and he just laughed as if I wasn’t serious.
Finally, it hit me…it being a critique. Unlike many such projects, this CD uses the same stunning band throughout. This killer unit is not a predictable one of current and former bandmates at all, save for Jerry Douglas and bass man Steve Bryant. They played in the ephemeral supergroup Boone Creek which launched Baucom to national prominence. Wes Golding, whose “Martha White, Lester And Earl” as sung by Marty Raybon is perhaps the standout among many excellent songs here, also belonged to Boone Creek. Joining Steve, Terry, and Jerry are Sam Bush on mandolin, Wyatt Rice on guitar, and fiddler Aubrey Haynie.
I am getting to the criticism. On top of this dream-team ensemble, the one-time fiddler for L.W. Lambert assembled nine equally respected lead vocalists. Bush sings lead on a winning version of “Just Ain’t” as well as “What’ll I Do,” while John Cowan sings the Monroe cover “No One But My Darlin’.” Jon Randall Stewart does the other Monroe number, “You Live In A World All Your Own.” Tim Stafford leads the song he wrote, “I’m Sorry Too,” as does Larry Cordle on “Long Enough To Make Me Blue.” Only Balsam Range’s Buddy Melton sings the lead vocals on three tracks: Milan Miller’s rousing “Carry Me Back To Carolina,” Jon Weisberger’s “I’ll Be Going Home,” and “Please Take Me Home” from Connie Leigh.
Thus, you can see that in addition to putting together an amazing core band and finding nine lead singers, Terry Baucom assembled classic and new songs from no less than ten top songwriters. That means the worst thing I can write about Never Thought Of Looking Back is that this album sounds like an unworldly good band with nine lead singers and ten composers. In approaching the album in this new way, rather than making another banjo record, Baucom has truly created an event—and one that demands repeated listening. Leading this bunch, the banjoist is driven to display his greatness on both backup and lead breaks. (Johnboy and Billy Records, P.O. Box 876, Burlington, NC 27216, www.terrybaucom.com.)AM