Black Music Matters Festival

Balsam Range

Trains I Missed – 2010 (Mountain Home)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Balsam Range

Since their 2007 debut album, Balsam Range has become one of the hot bands on the bluegrass circuit. It should be no surprise that the band boasts a lineup of very talented musicians - excellent instrumentalists and very good singers. Buddy Melton plays fiddle, Darren Nicholson (Alecia Nugent band) plays mandolin and Caleb Smith plays guitar. Marc Pruett is better known, having played banjo with Ricky Skaggs for several years while Tim Surrett (bass and resophonic guitar) has played with an A-list of bluegrass and country musicians.

The song selection is an interesting mix of new meets traditional bluegrass with a taste of country thrown in. East Virginia Blues, an old Carter Family song, is as traditional as you can find and they do a superb job with it. This is great harmony singing. On The Run is a hard-driving murder song while Meanwhile could qualify as a great country ballad. The title cut's lyrics and arrangement, while not that far from traditional bluegrass, will appeal to those who like the newer bluegrass sound. They remember their gospel roots, too, with The Touch, a great song by guitarist Smith, and a beautiful rendition of Randall Hylton's Gonna Be Movin'.

This train that shouldn't be missed.