Thursday, December 13, 2018

Balsam Range: “Aeonic” (2019) CD Review

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but there is something about bluegrass that works so well to raise our spirits. With its natural sounds, generally talented players and good blending of voices, bluegrass at the very least puts us at ease, and often gets us smiling and dancing. Aeonic, the new release from Balsam Range, does both, and it features some excellent vocal work. The band is made up of Tim Surrett on bass, dobro and vocals; Buddy Melton on fiddle and vocals; Caleb Smith guitar and vocals, Marc Pruett on banjo, and Darren Nicholson on mandolin and vocals. These guys have been putting out good music for more than a decade now, and this new release has some excellent tracks. And yes, the band explains the album’s title in the liner notes.

The CD gets off to a great start with “The Girl Who Invented The Wheel,” an energetic tune that should bring a smile to your face. There is a lot of great playing on this track. “A real fast song with a lonesome feel/’Cause there goes the girl who invented the wheel.” There is something about that banjo that makes me remember how good life can be. We could all use a reminder like that, eh? That’s followed by “Tumbleweed Town,” a pretty song written by Milan Miller and Beth Husband. The lines that stood out for me the first time I listened to it are: “Searching for a sign of the man I hope to be/Now the dreams I didn’t find are another casualty.”

Rambling is a one of those topics that finds its way into a lot of bluegrass tunes, and on this disc Balsam Range gives us “The Rambler,” a slower, mellower, sweeter tune that features some wonderful vocal work. And check out these lines: “You’re making twenty, you’re saving ten/’Til you get that ache again/To spend whatever you have to spend/To take away your blues/Thirty days is awful long/When the road you’re riding on/Makes you weak instead of strong.” This song is gorgeous and moving, and is one I like more and more each time I hear it. “You’ve seen too much, and not as much as you thought you’d see.” They then pick up the pace with “Get Me Gone,” a fun, lively, joyous song. “Get me gone like a shooting star/Just as fast, and just as far.” I love it, and I certainly appreciate these lyrics. I have a feeling we’ll be singing them a lot, as they express a desire that many of us have these days.

“Let My Life Be A Light” is another jubilant number, a bit of bluegrass gospel. It has a positive attitude that I would love to adopt. “Help me do some good deed while I live/Let my life be a light/Shining out through the night/May I help struggling ones to the fold/Spreading cheer everywhere/To the sad and the lone/Let my life be a light to some soul.” Even though the religious aspect of the lines doesn’t speak to me, I do appreciate the idea of being an example and trying to help one’s fellow man. Plus, I love that mandolin. There is also some really nice work on guitar. Another of the disc’s highlights is “Graveyard Blues.” This is a seriously cool number, bluegrass blues, with a strong vocal performance. They follow that with a thoughtful, gentle cover of Paul Thorn’s “Angel Too Soon.” The album then concludes with a Beatles cover, “If I Needed Someone.” It is a lively, fast-paced rendition. This is what it’s all about, and is exactly what I want from a bluegrass album, including excellent vocals and some good jamming.

CD Track List
  1. The Girl Who Invented The Wheel
  2. Tumbleweed Town
  3. The Rambler
  4. Get Me Gone
  5. Hobo Blues
  6. Help Me To Hold On
  7. Let My Life Be A Light
  8. My Cross To Bear
  9. Graveyard Blues
  10. Angel Too Soon
  11. If I Needed Someone 
Aeonic is scheduled to be released on January 4, 2019 through Mountain Home Music Company.

1 comment:

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