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Ralph Stanley II

This One is Two – 2008 (Lonesome Day)

Reviewed by Dr. Bobby Jones

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CDs by Ralph Stanley II

The name of Ralph Stanley conjures up images of mountain bluegrass. However, this CD is more in the country vein. Ralph Stanley II delivers his vocals in a smoky baritone more reminiscent of modern country than the high lonesome sound on his first album since 2002's "Stanley Blues." Not that Ralph II ignores his roots. With bluegrass standouts like Adam Steffey of the Dan Tyminski band, and Cody Kilby and Darren Vincent, (both played with Ricky Skaggs), there is not a weak sideman here. The picking is strong on every instrument, and Jim Lauderdale and several others sing excellent country harmony.

The bluegrass instruments ring clear, and the vocals are well phrased. The songs tell stories of trains, mama, girl friends, bars and guitars, but somehow don't overuse country cliches. Ralph II's vocals are convincing. He's been on the road all his life and delivers with the conviction of an artist who has lived his songs.