The second release from the Darrell Webb Band, Breaking Down the Barriers, is quite appropriately titled. Its genre-bending sound mixes contemporary bluegrass and country, creating a playful sound ready for the radio. Webb pulls from established songwriters as well as contributing several original songs, ultimately producing an interesting collection of tracks.
This Old Town, currently gaining airplay on bluegrass stations across the country, is one of the album’s standout tracks. Written by album producer Jim VanCleve and Josh Miller, this tune tells the familiar story of a man who returns to his hometown to find out the world has kept spinning even while he has been gone. Another song fans will enjoy is the catchy She’s Out of Here, co-written by Webb and Jeff Barbra.
Webb has included a few tunes from well-known country songwriters, including two songs penned by Skip Ewing. Pistol and Pen is a dark song filled with pain in which the singer declares that he has “lost everything I’ve ever had except my sanity.” Webb’s drawn out, sometimes whispered vocals and Jake Joines’ lonesome resonator guitar work contribute to the song’s bleak outlook. Ewing’s other cut on the album, Always Leave ‘Em Smilin’ (When Your Gone) is a much more upbeat, though slightly clichéd song, relating the friendship between a young boy and an old man.
One of the album’s most unusual songs is Beckett’s Back 40 Acres, which shares the tale of a gossip-filled small town which discovers a local farmer’s wealth is coming from an illegal cash crop. With spoken parts from a “gossip brigade” and a pop-top cracking narrator, as well as an outro that turns into somewhat of a free-for-all jam, the song becomes quite hokum by its end.
Breaking Down the Barriers also includes two instrumentals. NoraBelle is a cheerful sounding mandolin tune composed by Webb, featuring nice solos. Jamming on the Highway is a true collaborative effort, with the tune being attributed to every member of the band as well as VanCleve and tracking engineer Eric Willson. This stripped-down tune is one of the more country-sounding on the album, leading into a version of Ronnie Milsap’s 1984 hit, Prisoner of the Highway.
Webb, who is joined by band members Joines (resonator guitar), Jared Hensley (guitar), Jeremy Arrowood (bass), and Chris Wade (banjo), as well as Jim VanCleve on fiddle, has compiled a collection of eleven tracks which reaches out to fans of country music while still maintaining a bluegrass feel.
For more information on the Darrell Webb Band, visit their website at www.darrellwebbband.com. Their new album is available from the website, as well as digital music outlets.