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Scott Brannon

Your Old Standbye – 2012 (Patuxent)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Scott Brannon

Though a West Virginia native, Scott Brannon has been a veteran mainstay of the DC-Baltimore bluegrass scene for many years. For evidence that he leans strongly toward the traditional end of things, look no further than the fact that three of the dozen tracks on this solo release are drawn from the Hank Williams catalog, starting off with the opening track, Wedding Bells, among Hank's most iconic "A" sides (though written by Claude Boone). There's also a lot of appeal in Brannon's selection of a couple of lesser-known Williams gems, Singing Waterfall and the gospel-flavored Sing, Sing, Sing.

There's more than that, though, as the disc wanders through a Who's Who of fifties- and sixties-era bluegrass and classic country including Johnny Cash (I Still Miss Someone), Carl Smith (I Overlooked An Orchid) and the title track written by Jim Eanes, one of the more underappreciated of the early bluegrass pioneers. The material even goes back to the dawn of country with If I Lose, a 1927 hit for Charlie Poole (though the liner notes erroneously credit it to Ralph Stanley).

Brannon sings in a solid, high baritone that carries a natural, unaffected edge to it that echoes his Mountain State origins, and the supporting cast is top-notch, including Michael Cleveland, the dominant fiddler of the last decade in bluegrass, and a couple of former Johnson Mountain Boys, David McLaughlin and Marshal Wilborn. It says a lot about Brannon that musicians of this caliber want to sit in on his studio sessions.