Bill Emerson & Sweet Dixie - SouthernBILL EMERSON AND SWEET DIXIE
SOUTHERN
Rural Rhythm
RHY1053

Bill Emerson established his bluegrass cred a long time ago, going back to his days with the Country Gentlemen and a memorable stint with Jimmy Martin. On his new album Southern, backed by his band Sweet Dixie, Emerson is in fine form once again with a solid collection of traditional bluegrass.
What I like about Southern, first and foremost, is the song selection. There are tunes written by Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Pete Goble, Carl Jackson, Tim Stafford, Hazel Dickens, and Chris Hillman, just to name a few. Stepping up with most of the lead vocals is the familiar voice of Tom Adams, who also plays the majority of guitar. Bassist Teri Chism sings lead on three cuts including “I Can’t Find Your Love Anymore” and “Sometimes The Pleasure’s Worth The Pain.” The rest of the band includes Emerson on banjo and Wayne Lanham on mandolin. Sharing the fiddle duties are guests Rickie Simpkins and Frank Solivan with John Miller adding rhythm and lead guitar on two cuts.
The highlights for me on this album are songs about the rural roots of the music, something that contemporary bluegrass is moving away from in these modern times. The best examples include an old school country music take on Vince Gill’s “Life In The Old Farm Town,” Cartwright’s song about the rural life left behind called “Old Coal Town,” and a good old West Virginia song written by Pete Goble titled “Grandpa Emory’s Banjo.” The album ends with two originals—a wonderful instrumental written by Janet Davis called “Grandma’s Tattoos” that features Davis in a duet on banjo with Emerson and the Tom Adams-penned gospel number, “The Lord Will Light The Way.” (Rural Rhythm, P.O. Box 660040, Dept. D., Arcadia, CA 91066, www.ruralrhythm.com.) DH