Black Music Matters Festival

The Grascals

Keep on Walkin' – 2008 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Jessica Phillips

See it on Amazon

The Grascals' third record finds them walking the fine line of mixing covers with originals. While the band sounds tight on every song, the cover choices are so strong that they outshine the new material.

A cover of the George Jones' hit "Choices," is a standout. This track is moving and respectful, and the subtle banjo and moaning fiddle work underscore the regret of the lyrics ("now I'm living and dying with the choices I've made"). Their take on Waylon Jennings' "The Only Daddy That Will Walk the Line" brings a lighthearted touch to the rough and tumble original, with its plucky mandolin and zipping fiddle work. The harmony vocals on the Harley Allen-Jamie Johnson song "Indiana" sound a bit like Rascal Flatts lead singer Gary LeVox on this reminiscent song of a bygone childhood. The Earl Scruggs classic "Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms," with its dizzying fiddle solo and old time harmonies is a great listen, as is the southern gospel-tinged group vocal on "Farther Along." Guest Vince Gill's beautiful vocal on the mournful duet "Sad Wind Sighs" makes one wish for an album of bluegrass classics by this fine singer.

While the originals here are decent, the cover songs here keep you listening.