The Grascals- And Then There's This
Donald Teplyske | November 16, 2015
From the first time I heard The Grascals, I was sold. "Me and John and Paul," the first song I heard from the band back in 2005, hit me between the eyes and it likely took me a full year before I could listen to the track without tearing up. Even driving home from work a couple weeks back, I again had my vision blurring as the two friends stood behind their pal in the crowded high school hallway. It was an amazing debut number and a stellar way to make an initial collective mark within the bluegrass world. To my ears, the Harley Allen track was an instant classic.
Catching them live at my only IBMA weekend festival in Nashville was a definite highlight among my rather extensive bluegrass concert attendance history.
That being said, the band has- in my opinion- faltered at times, recording too much music that wasn't distinctive enough. Still, taken as a whole, their five Rounder albums were darn impressive, and any one serves as an excellent introduction to the group. More recent releases have been more uneven if only because they have too often 'played it safe' in both song selection and execution while attempting to broaden their appeal and fan base in ways that I believed weakened their brand. The albums have all had their moments, but aren't consistently as outstanding as their earliest releases.
The Grascals have a new album coming in January, their first with new co-lead singer John Bryan. It will be entitled "And Then There's This," and will be their third for the Mountain Home label. "I Know Better" is currently available when the album is pre-ordered and as an individual single. I've only heard a sampling of the song via the EPK, but it sounds promising. Bryan's voice is fresh and the song itself maintains the best parts of The Grascals' fast-paced, up tempo style of bluegrass, with lots of 5-string from Kristin Scott Benson.
I am quite looking forward to hearing "And Then There's This," and am hopeful that the album will be an early highlight of the 2016 bluegrass album slate.