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Mickey Galyean & Cullen's Ridge

My Daddy's Grass – 2016 (Rebel)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Mickey Galyean & Cullen's Ridge

Mickey Galyean & Cullen's Bridge come up with excellent, excellent traditional bluegrass from a group that's been together five years, but has roots that go back decades. Cullen Galyean was a respected bluegrass musician, singer and songwriter in the Appalachians, and his son wanted to follow in his footsteps. He's doing a good job of that with a sound that is on par with a number of well-known traditional bluegrass artists, including James King, Danny Paisley and the Stanley Brothers. His voice resembles Paisley's and, like Paisley, he's a powerful singer. A good example of their traditional sound, dipping into the pathos of hard times that is so familiar in bluegrass, is Dave Evan's "One Loaf of Bread." The parents spend all their money on liquor while the kids go hungry so one of them breaks into a store to steal a loaf of bread. The picture is painted.

Another master of touching hearts was the late James King and the band present his "It's a Cold, Cold World" with good harmony and a fiddle (Billy Hawks) that cries in pain from lost love. King, who worked with the Stanley Brothers, joins the band to sing Carter Stanley's "We'll Be Sweethearts In Heaven" highlighted by Rick Hiatt's crisp, staccato banjo intro and the steady hand of Brad Hiatt on bass. They include a rousing version of an old number, "Charming Betsy," which was also recorded by Cullen Galyean with The Virginia Boys in 1980.

Pardue proves to have a good hand with composing traditional–sounding numbers, including the heart wrenching "Please Take Care of My Babies," the plea of a dying mother, and the touching "Mama, I Saw Jesus Last Night," the story of a young cancer victim reassuring his mother that Jesus told him everything would be alright. These may be new numbers, but they would have been at home with any of the original bluegrass artists. Their harmony is excellent on "Dark As a Dungeon," not strictly a traditional bluegrass number, but no one is going to quibble.

Just close your eyes and listen to Cullen's Bridge, and you'll swear it's the 1950's again.