The current darlings of the bluegrass world, Flatt Lonesome returns with its second album; "Too" is a considerable improvement over last year's inconsistent debut.
The strength of this family-based band, centered about the Robertson siblings, remains the passion for vocal performance. Whether considering Buddy's straightforward approach on "Dangerous Dan," (reminiscent of song co-writer Tim Stafford) or the sweet back-and-forth of sisters Charli and Kelsi (as on the Randall Hylton song "So Far" kicking off the album), there is no denying the vocal prowess of this six-piece.
Utilizing a full bluegrass instrumental lineup, complete with Michael Stockton's resophonic and Charli's fiddle, Flatt Lonesome's palate is fair complete: arrangements are fully developed, the various instruments coming to the fore in turn while maintaining a balance that is aurally pleasing. Co-producers Andrea Roberts and Tim Surrett deserve recognition for their contributions.
"Never Let Me Go," written by Kelsi Robertson Harrigill, swings along and serves as a change of pace before another Hylton song, "Slowly Getting You Out of the Way," brings things back to the bluegrass.
Readily apparent is that the group - and their team - have grown during the interval between albums. Perhaps having 'lived' a bit more, Flatt Lonesome brings a significantly more mature and refined approach to their music. Their original material continues to be strong and their ability to select songs from outside is noticeably superior to the last time out. Of note are their renditions of J.D. Souther's "How Long" and Ernest Tubb's "Letters Have No Arms," while Paul's "I'm Ready Now" is impressive.
The payoff for listeners is a more consistent and satisfying bluegrass recording from the still youthful Flatt Lonesome.