It’s little wonder why the Alex Leach Band has emerged to the forefront of today’s young up-and-coming bluegrass vanguard. Their new album, All the Way, demonstrates that after only two albums, they already possess the skill and savvy needed to, in fact, go all the way. Comprised primarily of Leach originals, with an occasional cover included for good measure (a rapid-fire take on Joe South’s Walk A Mile in My Shoes, and a soothing revisit to Paul Simon’s Slip Slidin’ Away, both providing a fine fit), the set list is flush with all the exuberance one might hope to find in a young outfit with such obvious ability and affinity for the form.
Then again, singer/guitarist Leach himself can hardly be considered a newcomer. He’s been pursuing his passion since childhood and continues to serve a stint as a deejay on Knoxville-based public radio station WDVX. The rest of the band — wife Miranda Leach on vocals and vibes; Kasey Moore sharing fiddle, guitar, and vocals; guitarist, mandolin player and vocalist Zach Rusel; banjo player Barker Norihern; and bassist JT Coleman — underscore that enthusiasm with both purpose and precision. Not surprisingly then, when they open the album with Together (We’re Going All the Way), there’s no denying their determination to do all the title implies.
Leach’s leadership skills naturally extend to his material as well. Loveland, for example, offers an ode to the Colorado town of the same name, but the sentiments it shares extend far beyond. She’s On a Different Train, a co-write with Jim Lauderdale and producer Jon Weisberger, emerges as a lovelorn tale detailing a shattered romance, but the analogy to diverging journeys is both apt and ingenious. So too, the insistent strains of Lineman in the Rain provide another opportunity to tell a story through descriptive detail.
To that end, the band executes its delivery by varying the tones and textures. They eschew frenzy in favor of finesse, and on songs such as Up To You, and High Tide, the emotion is both evident and engaging. The same can be said of the heartfelt homily, Today (Could Be My Last). They measure the upbeat sentiment of The Game Is Always Different, and that of Little Secret, ensuring that the revelry and reflection are given equal emphasis.
That ability to deliver that sentiment so fully and freely makes The Alex Leach Band a standout outfit by any measure. It’s little wonder then that All the Way decidedly delivers all its title implies.