The fact that Western Tennessee’s No Time Flatt chose to name themselves after a true bluegrass icon says something about their commitment to the cause. However it also doesn’t negate the fact that this band isn’t wholly tied to tradition. Although their new album, Calling After Me, does boast mostly original tunes — the bulk of them written by bassist/vocalist Patrick Cupples — at least two of the covers they include (an infectious interpretation of Jim Croce’s I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song, and Harlan Howard’s persuasive plea to an unfaithful lover, Foolin’ Around) emerge as two of the best tracks on the album.
That’s not to say that No Time Flatt lacks the ability to relay striking songs of their own. Cupples’ Tammy Marie shares sweet memories of a wistful romance that linger even now, while guitarist Kevin Wright’s original offering, Little Lou, offers opportunity for the band to indulge in some spry instrumental interplay. Nevertheless, the most affecting offering of all is the title track, which revolves around a story set in the Civil War, and provides a historical narrative common to many of the young recruits facing combat for the first time.
In addition to Cupples and Wright, No Time Flatt includes Becky Weaver on fiddle, Steve Moore on banjo, and Kevin Keen on mandolin.
The band’s initial release was rightly praised in these pages and happily, Calling After Me manages to meet the high bar established the last time around. Since then, the group’s accumulated an array of other accolades, including the title of “Bluegrass Artist of the Year,” bestowed at the annual Tennessee Music Awards two years running, and more recently, a nomination as Entertainer of the Year at those same ceremonies.
The kudos are well deserved given the fact that No Time Flat manage to walk a fine line between an abject allegiance to a time-tested template and the melodic sensibilities that will enable them to reap a wider audience. While the five-piece combo possesses the astute abilities necessary to affirm their acumen and intentions, their material is the element that defines them best and underscores their accessibility. With Calling After Me, they’re at a point where there’s no need to even glance back.