Among contemporary lead bluegrass singers, Edgar Loudermilk has one of the most distinctive, recognizable, and enjoyable voices in the business. His crisp baritone lead is powerful, cutting, and expressively tuneful. As with Russell Johnson and Junior Sisk, similarly strident voices, you can always find him in the mix and always want to.
For his Pinecastle debut, he includes eight originals along with four covers that include a jazz standard, “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” “Harvest Of My Heart”, and a country hit from back in the ’70s, “It Must Be Love.” Two of the originals, “My Old Kentucky Home” and the slower “Homesick Blues,” Loudermilk wrote. Both explore the theme of leaving home and longing to return. That same theme emerges on “My Home In Caroline,” written with his bandmates, and again on “Georgia Maple,” written with Scott Mehaffey. The latter is the best of the four, with a mid-tempo bounce that has a gospel hint. Also of note is the beautiful country tune he wrote with Lucias White, “Until Your Love Brings Me Back.” Melodies don’t get much better.
While all the covers are very good, the one that most stands out is Jerry Ramey’s positive message song “Dreaming Enough To Get Me By.” It’s melodic to beat the band, catchy and has a very good arrangement.
Joining the bass-playing Loudermilk on a recording worthy of hearing in every respect are guitarist Jeff Autry, mandolinist Zack Autry, resonator guitarist Glenn Crain, and banjoist Chris Wade. This is the same group that backed Adkins & Loudermilk on their 2015 album. That continuity and familiarity makes for a cohesive sound and presentation and gives the album an added boost. (Pinecastle Records, 5000 Old Buncombe Rd., Suite 27-242, Greenville, SC 29617, www.pinecastlemusic.com.)BW