The Railsplitters, a bluegrass quartet from Boulder, Col., have only been around for about three years - not that one could tell from their debut album. "The Railsplitters" features well-written, mostly original songs, featuring tight harmonies and excellent musicianship. If there were any rookie jitters upon entering the studio, the band apparently shook them off easily enough, because this is a polished album from start to finish.
Guitarist/lead vocalist Lauren Stovall has a voice that flits somewhere between Alison Krauss and Iris Dement - a fine thing for any singer, particularly one fronting a bluegrass band. Her vocals on Jackson Town and No Stranger to the Blues are among the highlights.
It's hard to focus on just one of the quartet as everyone (Dusty Rider on banjo; Peter Sharpe on mandolin, Leslie Ziegler on bass) contributes songs and vocals, making for a true team effort.
The band gets to stretch its talents on the instrumentals scattered throughout the album - Rider and Sharpe in particular. Evil Apple, featuring guest fiddler Enion Pelta-Tiller, is more traditional, while Longs Peak, featuring a lovely mandolin/banjo duet, leans closer to the bluegrass/jazz world of Alison Brown.
While the band may be "new" in terms of releasing albums, the individual members are all established singers and musicians, playing in bands everywhere from Connecticut to Alaska. Perhaps that background helped make "The Railsplitters" such a strong debut.