Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent joined forces only very recently and memories of an earlier Gospel recording meant that the expectations of their peers was very high. The duo has launched their career on the back of a standing ovation at an IBMA showcase last October and bookings far in excess of 100 show dates. Along with a debut CD on a big bluegrass label (Dailey & Vincent), it seems that life could hardly get any better for them.
Any CD that features Dailey’s angelic voice cannot fail to succeed, but this eponymous release also possesses all the drive that Dailey and his partner Vincent have picked up from their days in the Doyle Lawson and Ricky Skaggs schools of bluegrass and elsewhere. Dailey spent nine years singing lead with Doyle Lawson, while Vincent played guitar and sang harmony with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder for the last decade, so the time was right to lead a band of their own.
With Dailey (guitar and lead and harmony vocals) and Vincent (upright bass, guitar, mandolin and lead and harmony vocals) on this 12 track CD are band mates Jeff Parker (mandolin and harmony vocals) with Joe Dean (banjo and bass vocal), and guests Andy Leftwich (fiddle and mandolin), Bryan Sutton (guitar), Stuart Duncan (fiddle) and Cody Kilby (guitar).
The CD begins at a hot lick with Sweet Carrie, a driving old school traditional song written by A L Wood and given a modern treatment. Don’t You Call My Name is of a similar ilk – a great up-tempo number. Dailey sings lead on the former, while Vincent does so on the latter.
The tempo is slower for More Than A Name On A Wall, a tribute to a fallen soldier with familial remembrances of his past. The harmonies are heavenly, as they are throughout.
Other slower tempo songs are the superb River Of Time, penned by Robert Gateley – note how the trio hold the note at the end. This is just typical of the many times that one could commend the vocalists for this feature. Take Me Back (and Leave Me There) is notable for Dailey’s high, soulful vocals and the delightfully-blended triple mandolin harmony work from Parker.
By The Mark is a hauntingly beautiful gospel number, written by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch, that makes reference to the imprints that enable Christ to be recognised for the sacrifice that He made. Other gospel songs are My Saviour Walked With Me Today, I Believe and Place On Calvary. Each performance demonstrates a deep affinity with a Christian life.
There are two other duets – with just mandolin, guitar and two voices. The arrangement of the afore-mentioned My Saviour Walks With Me Today is a throw back to the sibling harmonies of yesteryear, reminding me particularly of the Whitstein brothers. Vincent sings lead on this track, as he does on the joyful Music Of The Mountains.
Other up-tempo offerings include Randall Hylton’s Cumberland River, Poor Boy Workin’ Blues – a trio with Dailey singing lead, with hot mandolin break from Parker and later stellar fiddle work from Duncan – and Herb Campbell’s Don’t You Call My Name.
The jaunty last track Place On Calvary, a neatly arranged quartet, is very reminiscent of The Statler Brothers, from whose repertoire this and More Than A Name On A Wall were taken.
The banjo isn’t present on every song, but Dean provides all the drive that a band would want on up-tempo numbers and finesse on the one slower number on which he plays.
Here we have two voices separately and together, in harmony, singing delightfully. Since when has a band been able to call on such class in this department? Dailey and Vincent has surpassed those expectations prompted by that recording of Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem.
This is modern bluegrass to be sure, but I can’t think of a debut album that has had so many people purring with delight.
You can read Brance’s earlier comments about this CD on Bluegrass Today here.
Footnote: The Jamie Dailey-Darrin Vincent recording of Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem can be found on Christmas Grass, Vol.2 (Koch) and was released in 2004.