It’s been a minute since bluegrass fans have heard any true-blue recordings from Dan Tyminski. Though he’s been touring with his own Dan Tyminski Band (an excellent, traditional-leaning group that you should definitely catch at a festival near you), and offered guest vocals on several songs from other artists, his new EP, One More Time Before You Go, is the first bluegrass recording from Tyminski in quite a few years. Though brief, the EP is a fine collection of music and a wonderful tribute to one of Tyminski’s musical heroes – the late, great Tony Rice.
The five-song collection includes four of Rice’s signature songs and one original from Tyminski and Josh Williams. That original, the title track, was written shortly after Tony’s death as Tyminski worked his way through the grieving process. It’s a new song, but obviously strongly influenced by Rice’s guitar playing and overall musical style. A gentle guitar intro rolls into a perfectly written first verse: “Once in a lifetime there’s a man, who comes along and changes everything with wood, shell, and wire in his hand…” Close listening will reveal lyrics that not only revere and honor Rice, but also include a few references to his recordings (for example, “And you would find a way to say it with your shoulder getting cold”). The instrumentation is masterfully done with a band of Rice’s former bandmates, including Williams, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, and Todd Phillips.
The other four songs are more stripped down, featuring just Tyminski and one or two other artists. The album opens with Tyminski and Molly Tuttle’s take on Church Street Blues, which was also the EP’s lead single. It’s full of disillusionment and hope, as well as lovely guitar playing from both Tyminski and Tuttle. The two take turns on the guitar breaks, offering their own interpretations of Tony’s original cut of this Norman Blake song. Dailey and Vincent join in for Ten Degrees and Getting Colder, offering clear, bright harmonies against a stark arrangement. The bare accompaniment – just guitar – underscores the desperation of the song, as does Tyminski’s weary lead vocal.
Rounding out the EP are Where the Soul of Man Never Dies and Why You Been Gone So Long. The former features Tyminski and Billy Strings absolutely knocking it out of the park on the duet vocals. Billy has rarely been accepted by the traditional crowd, but he truly knows his stuff, and this song is a treat to listen to. I’m just saying, I doubt I’m the only one who would be up for “Dan and Billy Do Skaggs & Rice.” Gaven Largent joins in for a gritty Why You Been Gone So Long. Largent’s dobro shines here, and he and Tyminski double down on the song’s bluesy vibe for a fun album closer.
My only complaint here, as it so often is with short albums and EPs, is that there’s just not enough. Tyminski is a wonderful singer and musician, and he’s joined here by some of bluegrass music’s best. Word is that a Dan Tyminski Band album is coming soon, which is exciting, but I would certainly welcome a full-album Rice tribute from Tyminski and friends. Get a copy of this EP – you won’t be disappointed.