One of the most universal themes in bluegrass music is home – particularly, missing it once it’s no longer what it once was. With their latest project, Spokane, Washington-based group Kevin Pace & the Early Edition has built an entire album around that theme. I Want to Go Home celebrates the rural life, the simple life, and as Pace writes in the liner notes, the place “where at an early age each of us are molded and shaped into what we’re going to grow up to be.” The album features eleven tracks of straightforward modern traditional bluegrass – think Junior Sisk style arrangements – performed earnestly and from the heart.
Much like previous albums from the band, a large chunk of the tracks here come from Pace’s pen. My Mother to Hold is one of the best of those. It’s a classic “mother” song with a Stanley vibe, with a bit of extra emotional punch brought about by the fact that Pace wrote it after his own mother’s passing. When Sister Sang Daddy Home, a tender track about a daughter helping her father in his final hours, is something of a companion song to the prior number, as it’s also written from personal experience. It’s another of the album’s highlights, with Jeff Tolbert’s fiddles particularly standing out.
The title track has a gentler, acoustic country feel as it takes listeners through several scenes of a man wishing for the comforts of home. Bluegrass State of Mine and Springtime in the Mountains are both cheerful, bouncy numbers. The former finds the singer looking forward to a trip to Kentucky, “where the grass is always blue and the music there is too,” while the latter’s list of springtime images will have listeners wishing for winter’s end. Another new song, though pulled from outside of the band, is Brink Brinkman’s Paint Me a Picture of Home. Like many numbers from Brinkman’s pen, the song has a smooth contemporary sound.
The covers here will likely be familiar to most fans of traditional bluegrass. The album opens with a banjo-guided version of Carter Stanley’s The Old Home. It’s an upbeat number that makes for a good opening track and good introduction to the group’s style. No Mother or Dad, which kicks with some nice mandolin work from Pace, has a bit of a bluesy groove, and seems to be a little slower than other versions I’ve heard. Mac Wiseman’s influence shines through in Pace’s vocal phrasing and inflections on I Wonder How the Old Folks Are At Home, which also features strong traditional guitar breaks from Josh Robertson.
For I Want to Go Home, Kevin Pace & the Early Edition made the switch from independently releasing albums to signing with Poor Mountain Records. However, they’ve kept the same sincere, traditional sound that fans across the country have come to enjoy. For more information on the band, visit their website at www.kevinpaceband.com. Their new album can be purchased from several online music retailers.