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Matt Wallace

For a Season – 2014 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Matt Wallace

Matt Wallace is a veteran of the bluegrass road. He's spent time with the great Paul Williams, Audie Blaylock, Pine Mountain Railroad and David Parmley and currently plays with Steve Thomas and Mark Newton.

Wallace has made use of a variety of supporting singers and pickers on this new CD. Wayne Taylor (Blue Highway) sings the lead on "Have You Come To Say Goodbye," a number that's been around for awhile, including a release by Parmley. This is classic bluegrass at its best. Wallace plays bass, the multi-talented Darrell Webb is on guitar and mandolin, Tim Crouch is the fiddler and Josh Hymer, another Continental Divide alumnus, plays banjo on this track. Maybelle Carter's "Lonesome Homesick Blues." features Jesse Gregory, a young woman who can hold her own with the best, on lead vocals as does "Creepin' In," a song with a modern sound to it, telling a tale of how troubles will find the tiniest crack to creep into your life.

Paul Brewster, sideman to Ricky Skaggs, makes some appearances, including singing tenor on "Long Gone," a song by Neil Diamond, a name not often related to bluegrass. This is a good example of not tying a song to a single genre. The version barely resembles Diamond's version (same tune, same melody, different arrangement and vocalization) and makes a bluegrass number that most classic artists could have included in their repertoires. Brewster also gives us "Got Leaving On Her Mind," recorded by Charley Pride and Bobby Bare and written by the late Jack Clement. This is another number that jumps over from country and make great bluegrass.

Wallace sings harmony on several of the songs, and the harmony singing is excellent. He's also a good lead singer. "Another Mile" features Wallace on lead. This is a gospel number, asking the Lord for enough strength to walk another mile. Alex Hibbits (The Expedition Show, who plays mandolin and sings harmony on a number of tracks, helps out here. Wallace's voice has an uncanny resemblance to Parmley's, enough so that you'll be checking the song credits to see if Parmley is a guest. That's a good thing because Parmley and Wallace have pleasing baritone voices. He also sings lead on a fast-paced southern gospel number, "I Wanna Know More About My Lord," featuring great three-part harmony, and the beautiful "Mercy Walked In."

Bass players are rarely the stars of the show, but they are the anchors. Matt Wallace is one bass player who needs to spend more time in front of the microphones.