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Dailey & Vincent

Brothers of the Highway – 2013 (Rounder)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Dailey & Vincent

Some six years and counting after their spectacular debut on the bluegrass scene, with a couple of handfuls of IBMA awards garnered along the way, Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent continue to avoid the trap of sputtering out after using up their best material on the first couple of albums. The primary reason is, although they are adept at writing some of their own material (and two of the tracks on this new release, Steel Drivin' Man and Back To Jackson County are nice efforts by Dailey), they're keenly aware that their bread and butter is drawing from the virtually inexhaustible store of "roots" music recorded over the last century, and importantly, not just "bluegrass songs". A prime example on "Brothers Of The Highway" is Where've You Been?, a mainstream country hit for Kathy Mattea some years back, co-written by her husband Jon Vezner with Don Henry. Dailey's sensitive lead vocal makes it one the disc's highlights.

They cover a lot more bases though, from the title track (a reprise of a George Strait hit), to Bill Monroe (Close By), Wilma Lee Cooper (Tomorrow I'll Be Gone) and the Louvin Brothers (When I Stop Dreaming) and more. The Louvin cut is notable not just because it's superbly done, but it's also an indication of Vincent's continuing maturation as a lead singer after decades (since childhood) of focusing mostly on harmony. In addition to their regular band, the backup cast includes Bryan Sutton, Mike Compton, Scott Vestal, Molly Cherryholmes and more.

Perfectionists by way of their training under Doyle Lawson and Ricky Skaggs, Dailey and Vincent devote as much attention to the instrumentals and arrangements as the vocals, and the result is another powerful, coherent album from beginning to end. Is it their best? Could be. Hard to tell. But fun to try.