One of the latest sidemen to make a solo debut is bass player Matt Wallace. A Knoxville, TN native who has done stints with Newton & Thomas, Paul Williams & the Victory Trio, David Parmley & Continental Divide, and Audie Blaylock & Redline, among others, Wallace is the current bass player for Terry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive. That’s a remarkable resume, especially at a young age, but it has obviously prepared Wallace well for this new venture.
For a Season, Wallace’s new ten-track collection from Pinecastle Records, gives Wallace a chance to show off not only his solid work on the bass, but also his vocal talents. He sings lead on half the songs here, and contributes harmony vocals (bass, baritone, tenor, and low tenor) on most of the rest. Wallace has a warm, smooth, country-style voice that fans of his former boss David Parmley should enjoy. One of the highlights of his turn as a vocalist is the album’s closing track, I Want to Know More About My Lord, an upbeat Southern Gospel-tinged quartet number featuring Carl White’s tenor vocals, Alex Hibbitts singing baritone, and Wallace on both lead and bass.
Wallace sings lead on the album’s other two Gospel songs, as well. Mercy Walked In is a nice play on the image of a prisoner, relating freedom gained in a courtroom to the freedom gained through the Lord’s grace, while Another Mile is a strong traditional-leaning bluegrass Gospel number. It’s guided by Josh Hymer’s banjo as it relates the Lord’s ability to give us strength when we think we can’t go on. Wallace’s lead vocals are also found on two contemporary, mid-tempo numbers: Old Man Winter, a broken-hearted lover’s plea (and the album’s lead single), and Home in Tennessee, which fans of Cumberland Gap Connection might recognize from their A Whole Lotta Lonesome album.
>For the rest of the album, Wallace calls on several friends to take care of the vocal duties. Creepin’ In and Lonesome Homesick Blues both put Jesse Gregory, a recent graduate of East Tennessee State University who is now fronting her own band, Faultline, out front. Both are enjoyable, though with very different sounds. The former has a bluesy groove and some extended instrumental solos in the middle, while the latter, a revamped Carter Family number, has a more straightforward traditional feel. Blue Highway’s Wayne Taylor sings another old standard, Have You Come to Say Goodbye, which also features Hymer’s banjo playing prominently.
Rounding out the album are a cover of the classic country song Got Leavin’ On Her Mind, which was previously recorded by Charley Pride and Bobby Bare and has been given a modern traditional bluegrass treatment by Wallace. Jerry Cole sings lead, while Paul Brewster is on tenor. Brewster’s high lead can be found on Long Gone, a Neil Diamond song about a woman who’s “not the devil but might as well be.”
All in all, Wallace has put together a fine debut with a nice mix of contemporary and traditional sounds that listeners of both should enjoy. The musicians are all top notch, with Hibbitts (who also engineered the project at his Depression Lies Studio) contributing tasteful mandolin, Darrell Webb providing guitar and harmony vocals, Tim Crouch on fiddle, and Jeff Partin on dobro, in addition to those mentioned previously.
For more information on Wallace, visit his website at www.mattwallacemusic.com. His new album is available from a variety of online music retailers.