When fiddler Carson Peters appeared as a contestant on NBC’s The Voice in 2021, there were feelings of excitement combined with worry that Peters would be leaving his bluegrass roots for the mainstream country sound. Fortunately that was not the case. Peters’ latest release, Gotta Lotta Lonesome, on Billy Blue Records, demonstrates Carson and his band Iron Mountain embracing the traditional sound at a deeper level than ever before.
The title track, Gotta Lotta Lonesome, co-written by Peters and producer Bobby Starnes, takes on a swingy feel, as evidenced by Carson’s fiddle kickoff. Carson and guitarist Ben Marshall provide the vocals on this song, demonstrating the natural blend their voices have with each other. Along with Peters and Marshall, Iron Mountain also consists of Carson’s father, Jamie on rhythm guitar, Ben’s father Eric on bass, Austin Tate on mandolin, and James McDowell on banjo.
Fallin’ More and More In Love with You and That Lonesome Old River are both great illustrations of Carson Peters & Iron Mountain’s artistic identity. The former track was penned by Eric Marshall, while the latter was co written by Carson along with Phil Randazzo and Bobby Starnes. Both tracks show Iron Mountain’s originality combined with reverence for tradition.
Along with original compositions, there are several covers on this album. How Blue, released by the band as a single earlier this year, comes from the repertoire of country superstar Reba McEntire. Peters’ rendition of this song is well executed and one of the highlights of the entire project. Another song taken from the country canon is All the Gold in California, which was made a hit by the Gatlin Brothers in 1979. This track is also given a driving bluegrass treatment, which works surprisingly well.
All I Ever Loved Was You and Don’t You Call My Name should be familiar to longtime bluegrass fans. The former was originally recorded by Ralph Stanley, while the latter has been recorded by numerous artists such as Del McCoury, The Johnson Mountain Boys, and Dailey & Vincent, among others. Both songs are performed very tastefully.
You Can’t Go Back To a Memory, written by Eric Marshall is a powerful song about cherishing what you have and not taking anything for granted. It’s another true highlight of this recording.
Three tracks on this project are gospel songs. It’s Too Late (When You’re At The Gate), Heaven Or Hell, and Journey Home all contain the same message of accepting Christ into your life before it’s too late. Lyrically it gets somewhat repetitive, but nonetheless the performances themselves are first rate.
Gotta Lotta Lonesome is a terrific recording. As many have known, Carson Peters is an extraordinary talent as a fiddler and vocalist. This project not only showcases that, but also the talents of the musicians that accompany him in Iron Mountain. Along with fantastic original compositions, there’s great ingenuity in the band’s interpretations of previously recorded material. This is a project filled with youthful energy and skilled artistry.