Thomas has a career that spans nearly 40 years spent as a multi-instrumentalist, one who’s adept at fiddle, guitar and mandolin, as well as banjo and bass. Over the decades, he’s contributed his talents to any number of preeminent performers — Del McCoury, The Osborne Brothers, Jim and Jesse, The Whites, Aaron Tippin, Barbara Mandrell, Kenny Chesney, Brooks and Dunn, John Michael Montgomery, Montgomery Gentry, Lee Ann Womack, and Lorrie Morgan, among the many.
He’s also reaped numerous honors along the way, including various Grammy nominations and repeated recognition from the Country Music Association. An album recorded with Mark Newton, 2014’s Reborn, spawned several songs that reached the heights of the charts and helped established Thomas as an artist to be reckoned with, especially when he’s on his own.
Thomas’ latest venture finds him teaming with a band that also bears an apt handle, that being The Time Machine. It finds Steve sharing his skills with several other talented players, including Josh Matheny on reso-guitar and vocals, Chris Wade on banjo, Jason Owen on guitar and vocals, and Evan Winsor holding down the bass, while Thomas fronts the ensemble on vocals and the other instruments in his repertoire.
While their instrumental acumen is certainly impressive, the songs themselves, many of them Thomas’s own compositions, are the thing that grabs attention straight away. That’s especially evident in the easy and affecting lead-off track, Down in the Wildwood, the tender ballad, Since Love Came Around, the upbeat and effusive Far Far Cry, and the confident, if not cocky, The Rat Race. While many bands make their playing skills their prime focus, Thomas and company put their emphasis on accessible songs and melodies meant to seduce their listeners straight from the get-go.
As a result, All of These Years could be considered the essence of grassicana, a sound that shows due reverence for tradition, while garnering appeal in terms of its contemporary credence. In this case, even their vintage covers — among them, a sprightly take on Bill Monroe’s Rocky Road Blues, and a tender reboot of Flatt and Scruggs’ immortal We’ll Meet Again Sweetheart — allow the band’s melodic instincts to flourish at the fore.
It also finds Steve Thomas and The Time Machine staking a place among those who attempt to push the parameters while also finding a fit in today’s modern musical realms. As bluegrass gains a further foothold among younger listeners, this Time Machine provides the vehicle that ought to help make that crossover complete.