Bluegrass fans appreciate the efforts of the sidemen and women - the pickers who share the stage and provide the musical support for the stars. In many bluegrass bands, those lines are blurred.
Pinecastle has showcased the talents of Justin Carbone (Special Consensus) here. While no one is likely to call "First Time Around" anything but bluegrass, Carbone's debut goes in a different direction. He wrote or co-wrote most of the music, and it trends more toward a pop newgrass sound than traditional 'grass.The picking is first rate, but the vocals have a strange mix. The engineer relied heavily on echo/reverb, and the vocals sound like Carbone was down in a well. While the tempo varies, the vocals never drive the music.
Another problem is the sameness of the topics and overall sound of each vocal number. If you pay attention, you can differentiate between tracks, but if it's playing in the background, the CD melts together into one long song with some great instrumental breaks here and there. The best number is "Bye Bye Blues," but it isn't really bluegrass. While it's apparently aimed at bluegrass audiences, it just doesn't sound very 'grassy.