Willie Wells and the Blue Ridge Mountain Grass may offer a solid recording, but is, unfortunately, rather difficult to get excited about. Typically, new recordings offer listeners a certain something to remember or something unique like a great story or a play on words that will keep the CD in the player; however, "Gravel In My Shoe" seems to lack that.
The recording boasts six tracks written by the band including two gospel numbers "Walk a Mile" and "The Guiding Light," which very well may be the strongest to be found, but are also the last two on the project. The musicianship throughout is solid and well produced by Edgar Loudermilk and Wells, but lacks any sort of edge that makes it stand out. There is no clear cut track that demands to be played over and over, and the result makes the recording seem like it has simply always been around, instead of giving the feeling of something new or fresh.
Perhaps what really holds back the project from being great is the lack of a unique vocal presentation. Missing is that high lonesome sound, which some of the songs seem to beg for, but, unfortunately, never get. Instead, the recording showcases uninspired vocals.
"Gravel in My Shoe" is clearly inspired by bluegrass greats from years gone by such as Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe and The Stanley Brothers, but despite its best effort, does not capture the magic of its inspirations.