Turning Ground tends to eschew both posturing and pretence in their determination to deliver sweet sentiment and a rousing good time. The Salyersville Kentucky-based quintet — singer/guitarist Nathan Arnet, guitarist/harmony singer Ralph Adams, bassist/harmony singer Kayla Amburgey, banjo/harmony singer Josh Cantrell, mandolin player Evan Maynard, and fiddle player Allan Clevenger — formed six years ago, and they’ve stayed true to that honesty and integrity ever since. Their latest effort, Old Country Store, is as homespun as its title suggests, little wonder, considering that it mostly consists of songs written by Arnet, the man in the band chiefly responsible for the group’s original material.
The album begins on an upbeat note with a cover of Mark Selby’s Barbed Wire and Roses, an effusive introduction that captures attention right from the get-go. Things are generally less frenzied from that point on, even though the group maintain a decided enthusiasm regardless. The forthright Sadie, Old Kentucky Shine and Don’t Tell Me I’ve Gone Crazy all attest to the band’s effusive intents, although there are plenty of softer serenades woven in as well, as illuminated by the gentle sway of songs such as I’ve Lived a Good Life, Will Heal Over Time, Old Country Store and I’m Gonna Wear a Crown. The band make no secret of their faith and devotion, and those qualities are imbued in the music, particularly when it comes to material of a more sublime variety.
Mostly though, it’s the group’s adept instrumentation that drives their delivery. “Bluegrass is my passion,” Arnet says on the simply titled Bluegrass, a song that pays homage to their predecessors while also affirming an absolute affinity for the form. Maynard’s frenzied mandolin strumming, the pluck of Cantrell’s banjo, and Clevenger’s steady strokes keep the music on an even keel. Indeed, there are no slackers to be found among this bunch overall. The group’s spot-on harmonies find focus throughout, shining in sync and keeping the music moving at even keel.
Clearly, Turning Ground are adept at…well…finding common ground and a harmonious sound in the process. This Old Country Store has all the offerings needed.