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Blue Highway

Blue Highway – 1999 (Ceili)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Blue Highway

A new label and a new banjo player seem to have spurred the members of Blue Highway into making their best album to date. Tom Adams is one of the best banjo men in the business, and he's in great shape for his first recording with the band; his driving solos and snappy backup work add an extra dimension to what's already a great ensemble sound.

There's lots of great material here, too, much of it written by the band. Highlights are Wayne Taylor's combined coal mining/prison/murder tale, "Don't Come Out Of The Hole," Shawn Lane's lovely a cappella gospel song "I Am Near The Gate" and guitarist Tim Stafford's sad tale of loss, "Clay And Ottie." As has been the case from the outset, Blue Highway distinguishes itself with songs that go beyond the usual concentration on love and its consequences, as with Taylor's meditation on homelessness, "That Could Be You."

Guest appearances by Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss and Lee Ann Womack add a special shine to Blue Highway's first album for Skaggs' label, but it's not really needed; these boys do just fine all by themselves.