Even after all the years of bluegrass bands covering rock tunes, it still comes as something of a surprise to find Audie Blaylock and Redline opening their recording with the Elton John/Bernie Taupin classic, “Daniel.” Less of a surprise is how well they cover it. Setting the lyrics over a double-time backing gives it a rolling, wanderlust sound in contrast to the angst of the original, not damaging the song one bit and in some ways, with all apologies to Elton and Bernie, improving it.
That sets the stage for the rest of what is a pleasing, ten-song release of four covers and six originals, highlighted by the slow, country cover of Carl Jackson’s “Safe Water,” with its ear-catching melody/chord shift that graces the beginning of the second half of each line. The chorus is also a winner. “Where The Wild River Rolls,” highly emotional and equally country, though bluesier, deserves a similar recognition, as does the enervating uplift of Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry’s rollicking folk blues “Ride And Roll.” Think of the latter as sort of in the vein of “Rocky Road Blues.”
Of the originals, listen for “Life Without A Spare” and for “The Ties That Bind.” Both are very good. Blaylock and bassist Reed Jones co-wrote the former, using the lack of a spare as a metaphor for living a life on the rambling edge, one without a safety net. The arrangement has a matching rambling gait taken in medium tempo. “The Ties That Bind” is a Jones original, slow and heartfelt.
With this recording, banjoist Evan Ward rejoins the band that also includes the creative fiddling and mandolin work of Patrick McAvinue. Together, the quartet create a highly unified sound, one that is at times almost Dixieland in its interplay and trading of fills and solo fragments, and one that proves rewarding for the listener. (Patuxent Music, P.O. Box 572, Rockville, MD 20848, www.pxrec.com.)BW