A super group of sorts, Flashback is essentially an offshoot of the revered bluegrass band, J.D. Crowe And The New South, absent its leader. The group’s current roster includes Don Rigsby (mandolin, vocals), Stuart Wyrick (banjo, vocals), Richard Bennett (guitar, vocals) and Curt Chapman (bass), who, apart from Wyrick, originally reconvened for a reunion tour under the umbrella of “The Flashback Band.” A tour and a new album, Foxhounds & Fiddles, followed in 2016 and 2017 respectively, setting the stage for this sophomore set, Denver Snow, an effort that proves conclusively they don’t necessarily necessarily need the Crowe connection to affirm their credibility.
That said, other than Texas, Tennessee, and California, no state has inspired more songs about its environs than Colorado. Which makes a title like Denver Snows seem patently predictable even from the outset. Yet it’s hard to blame anyone for wanting to extol the lure of the mountains and the beauty of those scenic surroundings.
Likewise, boasting a name like The Flashback Band — now shortened simply to “Flashback” — offers the impression that they’re some kind of cover band. Granted, only a third of the album’s track list consists of original material, but the group still manages to make the outside contributions sound like their own. The title track alone is worth the price of admission, a declaration of purpose that puts their passion for the peaks firmly in focus.
Still, Denver Snow is more than a set of songs that provide an ode to the altitude. The instrumental array offers an approach that stems from their seminal style, allows Flashback to veer towards traditional trappings and a tack consistent with their credentials. A Rose from Time to Time, Take This Hammer, and the yin and yang of It Won’t Be Like Cheating and I’ll Be True to the One I Love find them echoing the sound of spry front porch melodies, while conveying it all with earnest intents. And the fact that none of these songs are standards makes it that much easier for Flashback to imbue their own imprint. The old folk song One Morning in May, famously recorded by James Taylor, comes closest, but given the group’s lithe treatment, it’s likely most people will have little clue to its essential origins.
The ultimate result is a collection of cheery tunes that are both unassuming and accessible, unerringly upbeat, and consistently catchy throughout. Denver and its snow is an excellent aural destination indeed.