Whenever an artist such as David Peterson releases a new recording, you know exactly what to expect. One of the foremost practitioners of traditional acoustic music, Peterson always selects first rate material, and surrounds himself with top tier instrumentalists that best fit his musical vision. His latest release Losing Game is no exception.
The opening track, Sugar Coated Love, serves as an introduction to the current edition of David Peterson & 1946, which includes Peterson on guitar, Mickey Boles on mandolin, Gabe Dettinger on banjo, and Nate Stephens on bass. This Bill Monroe classic provides yet another great example of Peterson and Boles’ vocal blend, a hallmark of Peterson’s recordings since his 2003 release, The Howling Blue Winds. As with the fair majority of the song selection, this track features superb twin fiddling from Jason Carter and Michael Cleveland.
Brakeman’s Blues is one of several pieces that demonstrate David’s commanding, powerful lead singing. Written and first recorded by Jimmie Rodgers in 1928, Peterson delivers it with incredible emotion and power. Combined with Carter and Cleveland’s twin fiddle work, and powerful slap bass from Kent Blanton, this track is a true highlight of this recording. Another song that showcases Peterson’s strong voice is I Live In The Past, first recorded by Bill Monroe in 1965.
Moanin’ The Blues by Hank Williams is one of several country songs converted to bluegrass by Peterson, and done so quite well. The title cut, Losing Game, was originally written and recorded by James O’Gwynn in 1956. Peterson’s treatment of this obscure song is stellar, and another standout on this project. Are You Waiting Just For Me? by Ernest Tubb is another track that is wonderfully interpreted in the traditional bluegrass vein.
High On A Hilltop by Tommy Collins has been recorded by numerous artists over the years. This waltz number features stellar trio harmony from Peterson, Boles, and Dettinger, and shows once again how important authenticity is to their brand of music.
My Old Clinch Mountain Home is one of two tracks that displays Gabe Dettinger’s lead guitar fingerpicking. A Carter Family standard, this is a nice duet piece featuring Peterson and Dettinger. The other song, Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine, was written by Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart. Dettinger’s guitar backing is appropriately subtle as it allows the listener to connect deeper with the story that’s being told.
North Carolina Breakdown is the album’s sole instrumental piece. Featuring Carter and Cleveland on twin fiddles, and also great mandolin and banjo work from Mickey Boles and Gabe Dettinger, this tune is filled with incredible energy from every player.
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow was written by Gabe Dettinger and fits 1946’s style and sound beautifully, as does Moonlight On My Cabin written by Curly Seckler. Michael Cleveland’s fiddling particularly stands out on the latter track.
The album closes with Heartbreak Mountain. Written by country star Buck Owens, Peterson and 1946’s rendition is filled with drive and intensity. Mickey Boles’ fiery mandolin picking and gutsy tenor singing on this track is solid evidence of it.
David Peterson & 1946 have knocked it out of the park once again. Contrary to the title, this album shows them at the top of their game, and is backed with brilliantly selected material from start to finish. As Tom Netherland states in the album’s liner notes, Peterson is “an uncompromising purveyor of traditional bluegrass.” Losing Game is another illustration of David’s unapologetic commitment to playing authentic music, and honoring those that came before him.
The album can be ordered directly from David via Facebook.