In his illuminating liner notes, Chris Jones points out that Old Trails, New Beginnings is indeed exactly what its title implies, that is, a solo debut album that was some 40 years in the making. Despite the fact that Tricia Ann Eaves has been playing music since the early ‘70s — and in fact, mentored a certain young Mr. Jones — this effort marks the first time she’s released music under her own auspices. Even so, her dedication to purpose has always been undeniable.
As she says herself on the album’s inside sleeve, “Bluegrass music brings people into each other’s lives. Across time and miles, it sustains and bonds us.”
It would be hard to imagine a better description of the importance the music provides.
Not surprisingly then, Old Trails, New Beginnings is a remarkably upbeat album, flush with uniform optimism and satisfying sentiment throughout. That positive attitude is sustained and engaging, and given Eaves’ nimble mandolin playing and the efforts of a superb support cast, the 13 songs in this set come across as equally infectious. At times, Eaves appears encouraging, as on No Use Crying where she admonishes the listener by insisting, “There’s no use crying, there’s work to be done.” That positive perspective is all too obvious in other ways as well, as demonstrated by such songs as Let the Mystery Be, I Got News For You, and Evergreen, each being an example of the cheery perspective that’s such an innate part of her DNA.
In a very real sense then, Old Trails, New Beginnings offers a lesson in how to reflect one’s skills, while doing so in a way that’s so natural, unaffected, and completely lacking in posture or pretence. It’s more than merely pleasant, although there’s an ample supply of that as well. It’s a sound so engaging, it’s literally hard to resist. Then again, why even bother? Tricia Ann Eaves finally emerges into the spotlight, a place where she’s long belonged, and in sharing her gift, the radiance illuminates the rest of us as well.
Let’s hope a follow-up is nowhere near as long in coming.