Johnny Staats is likely best known for being a bluegrass picking UPS truck driver. After the release of his first album, Wires and Wood, in 2000, this West Virginia mandolin player found himself featured in the New York Times, the Today Show, and People magazine. After a few years focusing on other projects, Staats and his band The Delivery Boys are now back with a new album.
Time Moves On features contemporary bluegrass combined with country and blues influences. The majority of the songs on this ten-song collection are Staats originals, including a co-write with fellow West Virginian and prolific songwriter, Billy Edd Wheeler. This tune, Big Coal River, has a dark and bluesy sound and draws an interesting comparison between a rough, muddy river and a lonesome man. Not Holding Your Hand is another melancholy tale, with the singer reflecting on happier days with the one he loved.
Two Gospel songs are included, as well. The title track has a gritty, Steeldrivers feel to it, and finds the singer reminding his friends that he will move on to a better place when he dies. When I Leave This World (one of the album’s standout tracks) is upbeat and traditional, and sure to have listeners’ toes tapping as the singer declares “when I leave this world, I won’t look back.”
The album also features several original instrumentals which allow Staats to showcase his skills on the mandolin. Sneakin Deacon, which clocks in at 5:23, features extended instrumental solos with solid rhythm guitar work backing them up. Odie’s Last Stand is urgent and fast-paced with a somewhat more progressive feel, while Hannah’s Lullabye is a gentle, pretty tune.
The album’s lone cover song is the traditional folk song Rider, made popular in the bluegrass world by the Seldom Scene. Staats has obviously been influenced by that version of the song, and delivers an enjoyable bluesy, upbeat version with the musicians getting to let loose a bit during their solos.
Staats is joined by David Vaughn (guitar), Roger Bissell (bass), Butch Osborne (banjo), and Ray Cossin (fiddle). The band comes together to create a familiar sound that fits quite well into today’s contemporary bluegrass music scene. Fans of original music are sure to find something to like here.
For more information on Johnny Staats and the Delivery Boys, visit their website at www.johnnystaats.com.
Their new album can be purchased from the website, as well as online music retailers such as CDBaby and Amazon.
About the Author (Author Profile)
John Goad is a graduate of the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music program, and is now pursuing a Masters degree in Appalachian Studies at ETSU.
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