Cascade Highway – Bo Randall

Cascade Highway marks an auspicious debut for singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Bo Randall, a 33 year old musician raised in Southern California, formerly based in Seattle, and now living in Milwaukee for, he says, “a change of pace, the thriving music scene, and also for the beer.”

It’s decidedly confident outing, driven by his husky vocals and a series of commanding performances featuring Randall himself on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, harmonica, and tenor banjo, Keith Wyss on bass, 5 string banjo, and backing vocals, producer Jesse Mazur on dobro, Billy Harbour contributing accordion and back-up vocals, and backing singers Andy Post and Robby Seager. 

At the same time, Randall’s earlier influences take flight here as well. A self-proclaimed “reformed” heavy metal musician, he fostered a love of Irish music at a young age, and that solid and sturdy sound resonates through any number of songs here. In the midst of brash, banjo-driven melodies, there’s an assured drive and delivery shared in such songs as Moonlight on the Moor, Has It Really Been That Long, and Sleeker That Silver in particular.

Nevertheless, Cascade Highway finds direction in its ongoing engagement. With time on his hands after losing his day job in 2020, Randall funneled his energies into building a recording studio and writing songs that reflected his disappointment over the ongoing urban decay, and his subsequent longing for greener pastures. Consequently, the desire and determination expressed on the simple and spare Emerald City, the quiet ballad, Alone With You, the rambling Road To Wenatchee, and the obvious enticement of No Promises, share a certain sense of optimism even in the midst of twilight circumstance. The performances are precise, spawned from sentiments that are indicative of how hope can be found in happenstance, even when pessimism might occasionally come to the fore. 

Mainly though, the music is consistently appealing, a combination of bluegrass eagerness and enthusiasm, populist precepts, and Celtic conceits, all of which are bound together in a steadfast delivery that rings and resonates throughout. 

Needless to say, it’s clear from the outset that Randall’s efforts have emerged fully formed. A label would be wise to take notice of this talented young man and give him the resources needed to continue his quest. At the end of the day, Cascade Highway finds Randall on a path that puts him in a position to achieve whatever recognition ought to come his way. 

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About the Author

Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman has been a writer and reviewer for the better part of the past 20 years. He writes for the following publications — No Depression, Goldmine, Country Standard TIme, Paste, Relix, Lincoln Center Spotlight, Fader, and Glide. A lifelong music obsessive and avid collector, he firmly believes that music provides the soundtrack for our lives and his reverence for the artists, performers and creative mind that go into creating their craft spurs his inspiration and motivation for every word hie writes.