Junior Sisk has long since proven his prowess as one of the most credible and creative voice in the current bluegrass continuum. After all, he’s been making music since the age of 14 and opening original material since the early ’90s. Then again, as a resident of the Blue Ridge Mountains, his affinity for the music would appear to come quite naturally.
That’s certain seems to have been the case. His 2011 album Heart of a Song was named IBMA Album of the Year the following year, while the single it spawned, A Far Cry from Lester and Earl, was named the 2012 Song of the Year. Sisk himself was honored as the 2013 IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year. Three years later, his collaboration with Ronnie Bowman, Longneck Blues, was accorded Recorded Event of the Year by the IBMA. Most recently, Sisk received the 2017 Male Vocalist of the Year award from SPBGMA, and his album, Load The Wagon, spent six consequently months at number one and became Sisk’s most successful album to date. It spawned a number of IBMA Award nominations in 2021, including Album Of The Year, for Load the Wagon, Song Of The Year for Just Load The Wagon, and Male Vocalist Of The Year.
Which brings us to his latest offering, Lost & Alone from Mountain Fever Records. As expected, Sisk doesn’t tamper with a template at which he excels, and opts instead for a set of songs that affirm his devotion to his perennial precepts. The music that results maintains those bluegrass basics, and given his obvious enthusiasm for that rousing revelry, allows Sisk to maintain his well-earned reputation. He’s got a first class band to support his efforts — Heather Berry Mabe on guitar and lead and harmony vocals, Tony Mabe on banjo and harmonies, Jonathan Dillon on mandolin, bassist Curt Love, and fiddler and harmony vocalist Doug Bartlett — and working in tandem, the exacting instrumentation underscores the power and passion in each of the album’s entries. Nobody Cares may be immersed in self-pity, but the music is rousing and robust regardless.
Likewise, the uptempo surge of The Lonely Side of Goodbye belies its sadder sentiments. The joyful strains of Take A Little Time For Jesus give the song a celebratory stance, but it’s especially telling how the heartbreak and betrayal described in the Louvin Brothers’, Take My Ring From Your Finger, manages to be expressed with such energy and enthusiasm.
Ultimately, Sisk remains committed to keeping the traditional mountain sound intact, through both form and finesse. That’s a staple of his repertoire, and even the most heartbreaking tales of dire disappointment fail to dampen his delivery.