On February 3rd, Colonel Zachary Wright released a self-titled album steeped in bluegrass tradition. At 15 years old, Zachary is an ace at the Stanley style of banjo playing and this album sure showcases him and his Stanleytone. Don’t let his age fool you. He follows in the footsteps of Ralph, Steve Sparkman, and Alex Leach as a top notch young man and musician in the old time mountain sound.
The first album for Zach, it features many of his favorites that have been bluegrass staples for years. He and his recording band represent these classics well. With Clinch Mountain Boys Sammy Adkins, Danny Davis, and John Rigsby, the stout back up group throws you back to a 1970s Hills of Home festival; Stanley music through and through. Little sister Savanna handles the bass duties on the project and does a fine job.
Zach steps up to the plate and sings lead on several numbers. Hints of a young Keith Whitley echo in his voice, especially on I Just Think I’ll Go Away. He runs through Little Maggie with ease. Danny Davis’ tenor is cutting a wide path throughout the whole project. Zach and Danny’s Rabbit In A Log has a dandy bounce where the tenor rules, as does Rolling In My Sweet Baby’s Arms. Sammy Adkins does all the lead guitar work, along with harmony vocals, but sings lead on White Dove. That track hits home, for sure.
The five string takes control on instrumentals throughout the project. Big Tilda and Daybreak In Dixie showcase Zach’s speed and taste, but the highlight among them is Hard Times. He has the taste, timing, and tone for this song that matches Ralph on one of his more obscure tunes in D tuning.
On a special note, 12 year old Savanna Wright takes lead vocals on two songs. Like Zach, her old soul has drawn her to the traditional sounds of bluegrass music. She may be young, but she has the attitude in her voice of a much older women. Savanna convinces you that she’s been heart broken before in Pain Of Loving You. The delivery and feel is remarkable for such a young person.
In today’s bluegrass world of younger folks heading down a newer path in music, Zach and Savanna Wright take the old road with passion and confidence. Traditional bluegrass music is alive and thriving in these two young folks. You can feel that Ralph Stanley is still with us via Zach’s right hand.
Let’s all remember to support the youth in our music. As is often said, they are the future. You can pick up this album at any Sammy Adkins & The Sandy Hook Mountain Boys show, where Zach fills the banjo duties, or shoot a message to Zach Wright or his mother, Michelle Wright on Facebook.
If you like the old time mountain stylings of the Stanley Brothers, and supporting the youth who preserve it, this project is for you.