With seven national recordings to her credit, Lorraine Jordan is back at it again with Carolina Road’s second Rural Rhythm release, Back to My Roots. Formed in 1998, the group remains very active on the bluegrass circuit, averaging 60 festivals per year in the US and Canada. Following their last album, the rather successful Carolina Hurricane, going “back to their roots” promises fans of traditional bluegrass music an excellent set of material.
The album opener and title track, co-written by Jordan and Terry Faust, is a hard-driving tune led by the banjo of longtime Carolina Road member Ben Greene, and the smooth baritone vocals of one of the band’s newest members, Tommy Long. It’s the perfect opening for an album based in tradition. Many of this project’s other songs also reflect on the early days of bluegrass, with remakes of songs such as the Louvin Brothers’ Bald Knob Arkansas and the old Mac Magaha/Don Reno number, I Know You’re Married But I Love You Still, which appears as a poignant duet between Jordan and Long. Several other tunes on Back to My Roots are new versions of previously recorded material, like the Stanley Brothers’ Sharecropper’s Son and the Randall Hylton number Lee Berry Rye (which was brought to the band by banjoist Greene from his time with David Parmley).
Reflections on home and tradition pop up throughout the album. For instance, Tom T. and Dixie Hall’s contribution, A Light at the Window (the album’s first single), was inspired by a reference made about Bill Monroe’s On My Way Back to the Old Home at the dedication of Big Mon’s Kentucky homeplace. Carolina Road has also revived noted North Carolina musician A.L. Wood’s tunes, The Hills of Home and Sing a Bluegrass Song, the record’s closing track, complete with Wood’s son Bobby playing mandolin.
Carolina Road’s strong vocals are matched by solid instrumentation throughout this project. In addition to Greene on banjo, the band also consists of Jordan (mandolin), Long (guitar), Eddie Biggerstaff and Dustin Benson (bass), and Josh Goforth (fiddle). Band members also show their songwriting skills, with Long writing or co-writing two originals: Granny’s Garden and Cold Carolina Snow.
For more information on Carolina Road and their newest project, Back to My Roots, visit their official website.