Callahan, Florida’s Trinity River Band has been making fans all across the country since they began touring full-time a few years ago. They count Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle, Bradley Walker, and Tim Shleton among their supporters, and are beginning to gain more recognition on the national stage.
The lovely Sarah Harris is front and center with her gorgeous lead vocals and mandolin playing, alongside the rest of the talented Harris family. Brother Josh Harris is a multi-instrumentalist whose work on both banjo and dobro are hallmarks of the band’s sound. Sister Brianna Harris has recently began touring full-time with the band as her fiddle playing continues to grow. Mother Lisa Harris provides dependable bass work, serving as a solid rock both on and off the stage, and father, Mike Harris, plays a mean lead guitar and is the patriarch of this talented family.
Their 2013 release, Today Don’t Look Like Rain, which included the poignant duet, What Did I Ever Do featuring Josh Williams, showed lots of potential for this rising band from The Sunshine State. Well, Trinity River Band has sealed the deal with Better Than Blue.
The title track and lead single from the album has proved to be the band’s breakthrough hit, having reached the Bluegrass Today National Airplay Top 5. This catchy song from Larry Cordle and Lisa Shaffer was originally intended for country powerhouses Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood. Sarah Harris puts her own stamp on the song, showcasing the pipes that got her nominated for an IBMA Momentum Award in 2013. Better Than Blue is such an addictive song, that it’ll be stuck in your head all day long.
Sarah’s beautiful voice shines throughout the album. Her vocal versatility is impressive for her age. Whether on powerful numbers or more intimate ballads, Sarah is up for the task. I’ll Love You Just The Same is the most beautiful song on the album. On this gorgeous love song, the combination of Sarah’s angelic voice and the waltz-like melody proves mesmerizing. Josh Harris’ dobro and Brianna Harris’ fiddle are tasteful accents to Sarah’s captivating vocals. Sarah Harris will be considered among the upper echelon of female bluegrass vocalists, sooner rather than later.
In addition to her incredible vocal ability, Better Than Blue features Sarah spreading her wings as a songwriter as well. My Heart Will Find Its Way To You is a fresh bluegrass song about a game I have found to be a favorite among young ladies: the game of “Hard-To-Get!” Josh’s banjo work is a real standout on My Heart Will Find Its Way To You. He is developing a style of his own which really fits the band’s contemporary sound. This one may find its way onto the charts too before too long.
Sarah’s songwriting is also on display on Pure Poison. A good ole “done me wrong” song, it features Josh pulling double duty, playing his angry banjo and taking the lead vocals. Josh’s first foray into the lead vocal duties proves a successful venture, as Pure Poison is a highlight on the album. The song warrants “cranked up with the windows down” status. I’m sure guys everywhere will be able to empathize with poor Josh as he sings about the woman who was “pure poison.” Hopefully, we’ll hear more singing from Josh on future projects.
The patriarch of the Harris clan, Mike Harris’ lead vocals have an infusion of country soul, adding another layer to Trinity River Band’s repertoire. Mike’s Steel and Blood is a bluesy number which tells a great story about a tough topic. Josh’s dobro playing helps makes Steel and Blood spooky and cool at the same time.
Better Than Blue has the Trinity River Band taking several risks while trying to branch out. In addition to Josh’s first crack at singing lead, Better Than Blue also includes Brianna taking an expanded role in the band’s sound, handling all of the album’s fiddle duties and even singing lead on Holly Dunn’s Daddy’s Hands. Better Than Blue even includes an old Celtic tune (Willie and Mary). The band has definitely grown into their abilities since 2012’s Today Don’t Look Like Rain, and they aren’t afraid to go into unchartered territory while forging a sound all of their own.
The album closes with a barn-burning rendition of the Elvis Presley classic, Mystery Train. Featuring heavy doses of banjo and fiddle, Trinity River Band’s version couldn’t be farther from the King’s original recording. They kick the song into overdrive! Sarah really lets loose, belting out the classic rockabilly song as if she had learned it from The Queen of Bluegrass rather than The King of Rock ‘n Roll. Mystery Train is pure power and a blast to listen to.
All-in-all, Better Than Blue serves a great introduction to the Trinity River Band for those who are unfamiliar with this rising Florida band. The hard work the band has put in over the past few years has culminated with the release of Better Than Blue, proving that the Trinity River Band is here to stay.
Trinity River Band’s Better Than Blue is available from Orange Blossom Records and can be purchased through iTunes, Amazon MP3, and www.trinityriverband.com.
photo by LuAnn Adams
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Category: Music Reviews
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