After eight albums over the span of a dozen years, one can’t help but get the impression that the title of Volume Five’s new offering, For Those Who Care To Listen, bears a bit of irony. In a sense it’s also a sad commentary, given the fact that the group have long since affirmed their credence. They were named IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year in 2017, the same year they won the Song of the Year honors for their entry, I Am a Drifter.
In short, you’d think that it would be a foregone conclusion that indeed there were plenty of people who actually do care to listen
Hopefully that will be decisively determined with this new set of songs. The band — Glen Harrell (lead vocals, fiddle), Patton Wages (banjo, baritone vocals), Jacob Burleson (guitar, baritone vocals), Jeff Partin (bass, dobro, tenor vocals), and Adam Steffey (mandolin) — parlay an emotional connection that makes each song sound as if it was originating from a personal perspective. Some serve up the sentiment in obvious ways; the beautiful ballads Song For Jack and Use Me Lord being the most obvious examples. So too, the forlorn The Army Vet Song offers a sad commentary on the fate of those who are too often forgotten and ignored. Yet even when there’s an uptick in tempo, as conveyed with Loneliness and Time, North Carolina Moon and You Can’t Stop a Fool From Holding On, it’s still clear that the group is conveying the music with nothing less than a clear conviction.
That said, Volume Five is mostly prone to relay their revelry, but here too, the tracks Someday, The Story of Simon Lowe, Wings of a Song, and The 15th of October, parlay an essential emotion that drives the delivery and stirs the senses. An even blend of original material and outside contributions, the songs clearly originate from a place of affirmation and honesty. The arrangements are plied with subtlety and assurance, ensuring a cohesion and clarity that that gives the melodies the prominence they deserve. While the instrumental dexterity is always assured, the tunes themselves take precedence.
Ultimately, For Those Who Care To Listen makes the case that everyone ought to be listening, and listening intently at that. Be assured it’s well worth whatever time is taken.