Having formed after four college friends got together and began playing bluegrass around Radford, VA, the Harwell Grice Band has graced stages from Maryland to Darlington, SC performing their Americana-tinged music over the past five years. Their latest project on Outlet Recordings, sophomore release A Million Miles, showcases the band’s originality with a 14-song compilation of both new and previously recorded material.
The five members that form the Harwell Grice Band are Stewart Werner (banjo), Josh Grice (guitar), Gabe Robey (lead guitar), Matt Hubbard (mandolin), and Andrew Kingery (bass). They are joined by guest musicians Jerry Wood (fiddle), Shannon Wheeler (fiddle), and Brian Mueller (mandolin) for this album. Out of the 12 songs assembled here, 10 are originals written by band members. Most of this self-penned material comes from the guitar players Grice and Robey, and banjoist Werner also adds two numbers: the instrumental Ange’s Song and the driving opening track Daddy’s Take Home Pay.
The Harwell Grice sound features three and four-part harmony vocals on ear-catching song arrangements. Their version of the traditional tune I’m Blue I’m Lonesome showcases their vocal abilities as well as their prowess for creating interesting, blues-influenced solos perfectly choreographed with banjo and fiddle lines. The solos on Ange’s Song are also performed in this fashion, and the closing Gospel selection, Crying Holy, offers a peculiar twist, with an surprise comedy routine detailing a wild night in Atlanta following the music.
Traditional bluegrass themes fill the album. The title track, A Million Miles (contributed by Grice), depicts life on the road for a weary traveler, and his song Ashes to Ashes expresses the trials of a man done wrong by his woman. This song also samples part of the traditional number Sittin’ on Top of the World, adding an interesting ending to the tune. While the band does stick to the sounds of bluegrass for much of the album, tracks eight and nine (tender love song Without You and the woeful Highway of Dreams) let the band’s Americana influences show through. Robey’s When That Evening Sun Goes Down has a wistful melody that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Blue Highway recording.
Relative newcomers to the bluegrass scene, the Harwell Grice Band will surely delight listeners with their original material. For more information, visit www.harwellgriceband.com.