Four years have passed since the Band of Ruhks last graced the airwaves with new music, and in that time, something has changed. No longer is the band a trio; instead, they have upgraded to an honest-to-goodness-full-flavored-bluegrass-powerhouse thanks to the addition of banjo man Brian Fesler. Like Ronnie Bowman (bass), Don Rigsby (mandolin), and Kenny Smith (guitar), Fesler too is an alumnus of Lonesome River Band (although at a different time).
"Authentic" is a collection of strongly written music, much of it by Bowman and Billy Droze, who are credited on over half the songs along with some from Rigsby and Smith. Fesler takes lone writing credit on "Detroit," and Smith takes credit for "B N Me," the lone instrumental where he gets to show off some really tasty guitar licks. Familiar sounds are included with a charming version of "Charming Betsey" as well as Reno and Smiley's "There's Another Baby Waiting for Me Down the Line."
Produced by Ben Isaacs, the sound is somewhere between traditional and modern bluegrass. Rolling banjo, outstanding vocal harmony and hot flat-picking is the standard mixed with a more modern subject matter and lyrical hooks. This makes for a fun sing-along feel for many tracks. "That ain't no way to treat a good man, Julie" and "Whatch gonna to with my old tattoo" are the first of many hooks to set. Still, the bluegrass tradition of sing about heartbreak and longing are alive and well in "Detroit" and "Cold Heart of Steel."
If you have ever run a needle though a record or spun a cd so much it stops working and had to buy a new one, then you know what you are getting into here.