Thursday, May 8, 2008
– Bluegrass band The Grascals, the reigning IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Entertainers of the Year for the last two years, will release their third studio album for Rounder Records, "Keep On Walkin'," on July 15. The 12-song, self-produced album is the group's first release in two years The sound incorporates traditional bluegrass and country music, both original and classic songs.
"After five years of singing together, and especially the last three years of extensive touring, we think we've really been able to define our sound on this record," said Grascals vocalist and guitarist Jamie Johnson. "The whole process of doing this album, from finding songs, to arranging them, recording and mixing - was relaxed and fun. We took our time so we could do things the way we wanted and treat each song with the care it deserved."
The album starts with "Feeling Blue," written by bluegrass tunesmith Aubrey Holt, who first met Johnson when they were in the Boys From Indiana. Holt has become one of the band's favorite writers, contributing three songs to this album. In addition to "Feeling Blue," which is an original song with the feel of an old Jimmy Martin tune, Holt wrote "Sad Wind Sighs." A classic lament disguised in an uptempo tune, the song features Vince Gill. Holt also explores the lighter side of life in "Happy Go Lucky," the song that The Grascals performed to open the 2007 IBMA Awards and have included in their live shows ever since.
Johnson wrote two songs - the title track about life's journeys, which he co-wrote with veteran songwriter Charley Stefl; and "Indiana," which he co-wrote with another of the band's favorite writers, Harley Allen. The song perfectly captures the bittersweet yearning for the home of one's youth. Allen, who has written songs on all three of The Grascals' albums, including the 2005 IBMA Song of the Year, "Me and John and Paul," also wrote "Remembering," about the lingering effects of war.
The Grascals put a new twist on Waylon Jennings' "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line," before Terry Eldredge sings a heart-rending lead on "Choices," a hit for his musical hero, George Jones. Also included are some of the songs that the band regularly performs during their live shows-"Today I Started Loving You Again," "Can't You Hear That Whistle Blow" (featuring lead vocals and slap-bass playing by Terry Smith) and "Rollin' in My Sweet Baby's Arms." As with their previous albums, the band took this one to play for Earl Scruggs, and they were delighted to see the smile on his face as "Rollin'" began. Following their tradition, The Grascals include a gospel number, "Farther Along," as the final track. It features Danny Roberts' vocal debut singing bass in the four-part harmony.
The disc also features Aaron McDaris playing banjo on his first album with The Grascals, and Jimmy Mattingly on fiddle. Guest musicians on selected tracks include the inimitable Hargus "Pig" Robbins on piano and Andy Hall (of the Infamous Stringdusters) on Dobro.