The mythical phoenix was known for its ability to resurrect itself after a life cycle of at least 500 years. While the Yankee Rebels haven’t been together quite that long, they, like the phoenix, have found new life with the release of their latest album, Flight of the Phoenix. While this New York-based band has been in existence for four decades, they had been on a recording hiatus since the late 1980s. Three original members have teamed up with two newer additions to the band to create an album steeped in tradition.
Flight of the Phoenix contains twelve tracks, including five originals by mandolin player David Bressler. Bressler’s compositions lean toward the traditional side of bluegrass and touch on several standard bluegrass themes. Blue and Lonesome shares the story of a man who is cutting all ties with an unfaithful lover, telling her to not even ask about him when he’s gone. A slightly brighter outlook is shown in Never Thought I’d Get Over You, in which a man begins to realize time will help him forget about the love he has lost.
Bressler also contributes a nice, upbeat Gospel tune, Road to Gloryland (which also features him on lead vocals), and two instrumentals. Methuselah Mountain Breakdown was composed after Bressler was dared to write a song with all the major chords, while the album’s title track is slightly darker and more progressive sounding than many of the other tracks on the album.
For the rest of the album, the Yankee Rebels draw from classic bluegrass and country sources. Behind These Prison Walls of Love and Shackles and Chains are both straight-ahead, lonesome bluegrass, featuring nice harmonies. Don Williams’s Lay Down Beside Me is sung tenderly with soft instrumental backup. The album concludes with the standard tune You Can Have Her, sounding a little more mournful than most versions.
Bressler (mandolin), Art Dekhayser (guitar and lead vocals), Les Bayer (banjo), Mark Farrell (fiddle), and Allen Cohen (bass) along with producer Bob Harris, who contributes guitar solos on the album’s first two tracks, have put together an album which will surely attract fans of classic bluegrass.
Fans of the Yankee Rebels can check out their Facebook page for more information on the band. Flight of the Phoenix is available for purchase from CDBaby and County Sales.