This past September, a new documentary filmed by and featuring some of today’s hottest young pickers premiered at IBMA. Conceived and directed by Corey Smith, a 17-year-old guitarist from North Carolina (with the help of Zeb Snyder, another young North Carolina guitarist), Generation Bluegrass proved that the future of bluegrass music is safe in the hands of a talented new generation. Smith and his family, performing as the Smith Family Band, have also recently released their first album, a twelve-song collection entitled Glenn Valley.
Glenn Valley features melodic instrumentals and cheerful Gospel tunes, including several original compositions. The album opens with the light and enjoyable Apple Tree Shoals, a smooth mid-tempo piece with an easy-going feel written by Corey. Corey also contributed the title track, another original instrumental with a similar feel. This tune features some nice back-and-forth mandolin and guitar playing, while 15-year-old Nellie’s fiddling helps carry the tune along.
The group reaches far from their North Carolina home for the fiddle tune Emma’s Waltz – all the way to Finland. The tune has a European classical feel in the beginning, but the family brings in some swing and blues influences near the end. An instrumental version of the upbeat jazz standard Sweet Georgia Brown also features a swingy feel, with a particularly fun banjo solo.
One of the most traditional sounding songs on the album is the Ron Block Gospel tune In the Morning Light. This up-tempo number reminds listeners that the Lord is always with them, even in the dark times. Another traditional Gospel song is the original To Save a Sinful Man, written by dad and bass player Allen, which speaks of God’s saving grace. A few other Gospel songs, such as the joyful hymn Praise to the Lord, here have a more contemporary Christian sound.
The focus here instrumentally is on Corey and Nellie’s respective guitar and fiddle playing, although younger brothers Luke (13) and Eli (11) get to show off their talents on the banjo and mandolin, as well. With dad Allen helping out on bass, this is a group that is quickly making a name for themselves. The Smith Family Band offers fine musicianship on this album which fans of contemporary bluegrass and Gospel are sure to enjoy.
For more information on the Smith Family Band, visit their Facebook page or their website at smithbandontheweb.com.
Glenn Valley is available from CDBaby.