Some readers may remember the Kentucky-based group Summertown Road, which released a self-titled album back in 2010. The group’s lead vocalist, Bo Isaac, has reassembled several members of the band to release a new project under the name Bo Isaac and the Rounders. This thirteen-track collection, entitled Dollar, is an enjoyable addition to the modern traditional bluegrass style.
Like many other male lead singers in bluegrass today, Isaac offers up smooth, country-style vocals. Isaac is certainly a strong vocalist, and he demonstrates that well on the album’s title track. This tale of a man working as hard as he can to make ends meet is accompanied by solid banjo throughout the song, courtesy of Elmer Burchett.
Burchett also serves as cowriter of this tune and seven others on the album. I Got Lovin’ is a soulful, banjo-driven tune that also serves as another piece for Isaac to show off his voice. Steve Thomas’ fiddle kicks off the upbeat Gospel number Preachin’, Prayin’, which has a nice traditional sound and an evangelical message. Burchett, who has a gritty voice reminiscent of old-time mountain singers, takes the lead for his composition Whippoorwill, a lonesome piece about a man whose love has left him.
Buck White contributes piano on Flat Footin’, Tennessee, a fun song with a nice, bouncy groove. This tribute to lazy summer days when “it’s too dang hot for baling hay” will definitely have listeners dancing along at home. Road to Summertown, a similarly-themed number about the joy of a slower paced life, opens with a familiar banjo lick – the kick off to Down the Road.
Miner’s Cry, an original by the band’s mandolin player Zach Rambo, is an appropriate piece for an eastern Kentucky band. This story of a coal mine disaster is one of the album’s standout cuts, along with the group’s cover of the old tune Nobody’s Business. Isaac’s vocals are a bit more restrained on this song than on most of the rest of the album, and it suits the tune well. Interestingly, Thomas also recently covered this song on his collaboration with Mark Newton, Reborn.
While Isaac’s vocals are the center of the album, the instrumentalists here are no slouch. Elmer Burchett’s banjo alternates between driving and bouncy at appropriate times, while Steve Thomas’ fiddling is spot-on as usual. Randy Thomas and Zach Rambo contribute solid bass and mandolin, respectively, and Isaac rounds things out on guitar.
For more information on Bo Isaac and the Rounders, visit their website at www.boisaacandtherounders.com. Dollar can be purchased from several online music retailers, including iTunes and Amazon.