What started out as, well, a sideline, has now become a full-time gig for the veteran musicians who took leave of their day jobs and opted instead to share a new pursuit. The decision paid off, and Sideline itself soon garnered a vibrant resume, a series of four well received albums and Song of the Year honors from the IBMA for their single, Thunder Dan. Not a bad success story considering it was a second career.
At the time of their newest recording, the group contained founding members Steve Dilling (banjo, vocals), Jason Moore (bass, vocals) and Skip Cherryholmes (guitar, vocals), with newer recruits Troy Boone (mandolin, vocals), Bailey Coe (vocals), Daniel Greeson (fiddle) added to the fold. Several of those latter have since moved on but happily, the combination of pedigree and prowess continues to confirm their high standing on the crux of contemporary bluegrass. Not surprisingly then, all their prime components are in play on Breaks to the Edge from Mountain Home Music, an album consisting of twelve carefully chosen tracks that the band easily adopt as their own.
Naturally, their dynamic is in fine form, particularly on such songs as Digging My Own Grave and Crash Course in the Blues, two initial tracks that move at a particularly vibrant pace. While some selections — particularly the debut single, Return to Windy Mountain, Southern Wind, and Someone Like You — slow the tempo due to nostalgia and nuance, a couple of other numbers temper the overall enthusiasm through tales of betrayal and disappointment. Indeed, when it comes to calling out a faithless ex-lover, Sideline share no sympathy when it comes to casting blame, as Your Selfish Heart and Jerry Cole’s Amy demonstrate so decidedly.
On the other hand, the group effectively add a Gospel flourish to the upbeat I’ll Live Again, thanks to layered vocal harmonies and an obvious enthusiastic embrace. Square Dance Town comes across like some Saturday night revelry prior to a Sunday morning of repentance. On the other hand, Twister (Devil’s Dance) suggests that maybe they have something to atone for as well. After all, rowdiness and reverence are sometimes akin to kin.
So while the emotions might not always be upbeat, the sentiments remain sincere. We’re delighted to report that Breaks to the Edge finds Sideline staying the course.