One of the most time-honored traditions in the bluegrass world is that of the family band – mom, dad, and the kids, often building the band from the ground up as the kids and parents hone their craft together over the years. Lindley Creek, one of the newer family groups to emerge on the bluegrass circuit, is no stranger to that story. After being invited to a jam by their Sunday school teacher, the Missouri-based Greer family fell in love with bluegrass, eventually all deciding to learn to play and sing. That led to performances at fairs and festivals, time on the road as a full-time touring band, and most recently, the release of a finely-honed album from Pinecastle Records titled Freedom, Love, and the Open Road.
The album’s first pair of singles, I Gotta Go and The Mockingbird’s Voice, have received a lot of love on radio since their release several months back, likely coming from the excellent vocals to be heard on both recordings. The Mockingbird’s Voice is an atmospheric number about a man whose sweet words contrast with his unfaithful heart, led by daughter Katie Greer’s well-controlled voice and haunting guitar and fiddle. This contrasts nicely with the cheerful, bouncy melody of I Gotta Go, penned by Ashby Frank. Katie takes a breezy approach to this one, letting a man know she’s tired of waiting around on him, so she’s “not waiting around to see [him] fall” It’s a catchy, toe-tapping slice of contemporary bluegrass, perfect for radio.
Son Jase Greer’s warm lead vocal is showcased on Right Back Where I Started, a thoughtful song about making it back home after time spent chasing other dreams. The song’s message, summed up in the lines “I won’t ever look at this place the same. No, it ain’t different, but what has changed is how I’ve come to regard it,” is positive and heartening. Home to You also has themes of returning home, though with a more romantic bent. Katie’s voice is filled with determination, as well as a bit of longing, as she sings of everything she’s bound to do to get back to the one she loves: “Gonna drive my car ’til the wheels fall off, then I’ll ditch my keys and begin to walk.” Both of these songs have more of an acoustic country sound than bluegrass, and I could even see them being picked up by some country DJs.
The group tackles a few cover songs, including I’m Gonna Take that Mountain, a Reba McEntire hit written by Jerry Salley and Melissa Peirce. It’s an uplifting, soulful number about overcoming heartbreak, with a great vocal performance. Bob Dylan’s Forever Young opens with a bright intro, led by mandolin and fiddle, leading into an earnest reading of the lyrics Dylan wrote as a blessing and lullaby for his son. The melody gently rolls throughout most of the song, rising here and there at the repeated line “May you stay forever young.” It’s a great rendition of the famous song.
Another highlight is the bluesy Gospel number, Four Men Walkin’ Around, which tells the story of the Biblical fiery furnace. It’s a fun vocal showcase for the family, with great harmonies. Words Last Forever is also an enjoyable number, containing strong imagery. The lyrics describe a neglected home and piece of land, comparing their damage and ruin to the memory of words that “echo down the years and days, through long midnights when all hope fades… they’re just as clear as when I still held you here.”
In general, this is an extremely strong album, with powerful clear vocals and strong choice of songs. Katie and Jase, along with parents Kathie and John, have the makings of a fine group, if a little more country-leaning than traditionally bluegrass. The musicians, however, are all guests, including Seth Taylor (guitar), Rob Ickes (dobro), Aaron Ramsey (mandolin), and Jim Van Cleve (fiddle, and who also produced the album), among others. From album photos and their history as a touring band, it seems that the Greers do all play instruments, so it’s a bit of a disappointment that most of the music here is created by artists who are well-known as studio professionals. It does lead to an extremely strong album, but I honestly like it best when a bluegrass band can create an album as close to their live sound as possible. Hopefully we’ll hear more of the Greers’ instrumental talents on their next album.
Lindley Creek’s new album is available from several online retailers. For more information, visit the band online.