Proving that contemporary tunes sound great when played in a traditional style, the new release from central Virginia’s Shenandoah Drive is rock solid. Their album Old Dirt Road, a collection of twelve tunes both old and new, was recorded at Eastwood Studio in Cana, VA and mixed and mastered by the guys at Mountain Fever Records.
The material chosen for this record largely features the songwriting of guitarist and lead singer Danny Seabolt, who wrote or co-wrote seven pieces for the project. Seabolt’s efforts not only include lyrics about common bluegrass music subjects like murder and escaping law enforcement (Runnin’ for the Border), but he also provides a couple of nice Gospel songs which the band delivers in perfect four-part-harmony. On Ready to Go, a sacred number that Seabolt co-wrote with Jimmy Mcquinn, the band’s vocal abilities are highlighted with an a cappella chorus which begins the musical piece. The melodies of touching pieces like I’ll Be Loving You, which describes the lingering feeling of longing for a lost love, mix well with other familiar-sounding tunes like Memory Going Blind and the record’s title track, Old Dirt Road, which speaks of simpler times in rural settings.
The band offers a fresh mixture of material by also including new takes on old standards like Carter Stanley’s Our Last Goodbye. Their repertoire draws from material by prominent artists such as Del McCoury’s dark, banjo-driven tune Henry Walker, and the Osborne Brothers’ Lonesome Feeling. There are also more obscure tunes, like the McPeak Brothers’ Back to Dixie, which kick starts the album, and songs from newer artists, such as Shannon Slaughter’s Lonesome Wind.
The musicianship shown on this project isn’t bad, either. Although Old Dirt Road is a freshman release from the members of Shenandoah Drive (Danny Seabolt- guitar/lead vocals, Chris King- Banjo/tenor vocals, Dave Kirk- mandolin/baritone vocals, Gary Creed- bass/bass vocals), it is obvious that these musicians aren’t newcomers.
The pickers on this album, also including the appearance of fiddler Mason Wright, really know what they’re doing when it comes to traditional music. In fact, bluegrass music lovers may recognize some of these guys from their tenures with other performing artists such as The Hazel River Band, the Navy bluegrass band Dixie Almanac, and the Country Gentleman.
For more information regarding Shenandoah Drive’s music, and to find out where they’ll be appearing soon, you may visit their website at www.shenandoahdrive.com.