It’s a departure for the band, not only for it being their first live album (with a concert DVD to follow), but also for showcasing the evolution of their stage show this past few years. Since their last record in 2009, Tim Shelton has brought a number of young guns into the group, and taken advantage of their energy and adventurous spirit to create a more spontaneous live set.
When we spoke this morning, Tim said that putting this side of the band on display was a big part of the reason for going with a live project.
The more I thought about it, the more a live album seemed like the right idea. It’s less expensive to produce, takes less time to complete, and offers a chance to show our fans who haven’t seen us live in a while what we are about on stage.”
Each of the previous three NFR albums are represented here. Try To Be kicks off the album, from their Same Old Place CD, plus Houston from their 2006 project Life In A Song, and That’s How I Got To Memphis from Somewhere Between in 2004 find a spot as well. Beyond these, though, the CD demonstrates how differently the band approaches their sound these days.
And speaking of these days… The second track is Shelton’s soulful, acoustic cover of Jackson Browne’s These Days, a theme that is revisited with his arrangements of Dave Loggins’ Please Come To Boston and Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, both pop mega-hits in the mid 1970s. But they also cover music from their bluegrass roots, with stellar versions of Carter Stanley’s Lonesome River and Earl Scruggs’ Reuben.
NewFound Road is also rich in songwriting, and three band originals made the cut with banjo/guitar man Josh Miller having a part in all three. His Blackadder’s Cove tells a tale of love lost and secret murder, while We Ain’t Going Down Without A Fight (written with Barry Bales) recounts the strength of family loyalty in an epic saga of the untaxed whiskey wars.
Lest you think that Josh is all killing, all the time, he and Shelton also collaborated on If You’ll Pretend, a poignant love song we previewed in an earlier post.
In addition to Shelton and Miller, NFR features a pair of Boohers – Joe on mandolin and Jamey on bass. Jim VanCleve guests on fiddle for the live album.
Tim says that the DVD is expected sometime this Fall, and that he is very pleased with how Live At The Down Home turned out.
“I’m proud of the record. I’ve worked on it pretty much non-stop since the fall. Now we”ll get to see how it does.”
You can hear audio samples from all 13 tracks in iTunes – plus Little Maggie, an iTunes-only bonus track. The CD can be ordered directly from the band online, and is available wherever bluegrass music is sold.