Black Music Matters Festival

Darrell Webb

Behind the Scenes – 2005 (Lonesome Day)

Reviewed by Brad San Martin

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CDs by Darrell Webb

The title of multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter Darrell Webb's second solo album is an appropriate one. The past five years have seen his musical versatility at work on a number of projects, including touring with J.D. Crowe and the New South, as a member of bluegrass supergroup Wildfire or in sideman roles on recordings by Dolly Parton, Tim Stafford and Phil Leadbetter.

Here, Webb delivers a confident and uncluttered take on modern bluegrass. The influence of Crowe is strong, as Webb eschews a lot of flash and superficial grandstanding in favor of a clean, streamlined sound. The program includes four originals alongside a smart selection of tunes both old and new. Eric Anderson's "Close the Door Lightly" is a particularly sharp choice and a perfect vehicle for Webb's crisp mandolin (his main instrument, though he's equally at home on guitar and banjo) and clear, honest vocals. Co-producer (and frequent New South fiddler) Ron Stewart is Webb's secret weapon. One of the busiest musicians in bluegrass, Stewart possesses a rare touch and sense of taste on both fiddle and banjo. He and Webb corral a stellar cast (performers include Dolly Parton, Randy Kohrs, Michael Cleveland, and fellow New South alumni Dwight McCall, Richard Bennett and Leadbetter) and deliver a dynamic, unified album.