Arkansas Without You from Darren Nicholson

Darren Nicholson is starting out his post-Balsam Range career in style with a strong new single, one he wrote with Charles Humphrey III of Songs From The Road Band, called Arkansas Without You.

This song exemplifies everything that is good about contemporary bluegrass. A well-written lyric that tells a compelling story, matched with an interesting melody, sung by a true stylist, and supported by first rate players. It’s quite early days, but Arkansas Without You is certainly in the running for top tracks of 2023.

Darren plays mandolin and sings lead, supported by producer Colby Laney on guitar, Wes Corbett on low-tuned banjo, Billy Contreras on fiddle, and Zack Smith on bass. Jennifer Nicholson and Derek Vaden add harmony vocals.

Nicholson says that the germ of this lyric came from his fascination with crime stories on television.

Arkansas Without You is our bluegrass romp with a twisted story of romance, deception, and homicide. It’s our modern day bluegrass murder ballad. I watch a lot of forensic files and true crime shows, and there are many tales like this — the darker side of the human condition. But I will say these fabulous musicians really provide an incredible stage for the story.”

Despite the subject matter, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable song. Top marks to Corbett, who has become one of the true banjo tone monsters in Nashville.

Arkansas Without You is available now from popular download and streaming services online. Radio programmers will find the track at AirPlay Direct.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.