Like many of their peers, Colebrook Road cull from tradition while also paying heed to the contemporary sounds of modern bluegrass, as proffered by the likes of Steep Canyon Rangers, Punch Brothers, and all the other outfits that have become festival favorites of late. They’ve shored up popularity with bluegrass devotees while also opening up the possibilities for bringing new enthusiasts into the fold. The band — lead vocalist, and main songwriter Jesse Eisenbise, banjo and dobro player Mark Rast, mandolin player Wade Yankey, fiddler Joe McAnulty, and bassist Jeff Campbell — combine their individual strengths in tandem, making them one of the most distinctive ensembles in the entirety of today’s grassicana/newgrass genre.
As its title implies, Hindsight is 2020 marks a belated return. Initial sessions took place in February and March 2020, but the completed project was delayed due to the pandemic. Notably, all the songs are original compositions, which, in itself, helps distinguish Colebrook Road from those contemporaries who tend to lean mostly on material from outside sources. And yet, every entry sounds like a standard, even at the outset. The call and response chorus of the celebratory-sounding road song, Back To Where We’ve Been, is clearly drawn from a personal perspective. So too, Mountainside and The Carolina Side share the joy of the journey with picturesque soundscapes that detail the places that weigh in with a familiarity factor. The entire album exudes a similar sense of optimism and satisfaction found in sharing stories and making music that’s obviously inspired.
Of course, words alone aren’t necessarily needed. The upbeat and effusive title track details their delight by shoring up the same sentiment. So too, the a cappella offering, All Of Our Days, comes across as a powerful prayer for peace and prosperity.
Remarkably then, with only three albums to their credit, Colebrook Road have already risen to the top ranks of today’s most erstwhile ensembles. Hindsight is easily achieved, but it takes the kind of taste and talent shown here to assure some measure of foresight as well.