For over two decades Chris Jones and his band, the Night Drivers have recorded original material that’s rooted in their smooth, identifiable brand of bluegrass music. The group’s latest release on Mountain Home Music, Pages In Your Hand, is a diverse EP containing six songs with Jones and the Night Drivers’ distinctive touch.
The project opens with the title track, Pages In Your Hand. Written by Jones and Thomm Jutz, this is a sweet romantic piece about a long distance relationship and the feeling of yearning. Along with Jones on guitar and lead vocal, the Night Drivers consist of Mark Stoffel on mandolin and Grace van’t Hof on banjo, octave tenor guitar, as well as special guests Carley Arrowood on fiddle and Tony Creasman on drums. Bassist Marshall Wilborn also appears on this recording, but has since left the band.
Speaking of Wilborn, Blow Whistle was penned by him. A prolific songwriter within bluegrass music, this bluesy song captures Marshall’s ability at effectively conveying emotion through the written word. This track is also complemented by Jones’ vocal performance as well as the resophonic guitar work of Billy Cardine.
Two tracks on this EP were co-authored by Jones and Thomm Jutz, the aforementioned Pages in Your Hand, and Henderson Hill, a sentimental piece about returning to a place that one calls home.
Another strong track is Jones’s The Price of Falling, which was one of the EP’s early singles.
There are also a couple of songs taken from historical sources within acoustic music. Those Gambler’s Blues was first recorded and released by Jimmie Rodgers in 1930. Here it is performed by Grace van’t Hof. Accompanying themself with the octave tenor guitar, the arrangement and performance of this piece is haunting. The EP’s closing track, Step Out In The Sunshine, was written by Ralph Stanley and first recorded by him on the album, Cry From The Cross in 1971. Chris, of course, puts his own gentle stamp on it. Combined with the vocal harmonies of the Night Drivers, this makes for a positive end.
Pages In Your Hand is another great effort from Chris Jones and the Night Drivers. Each of the six tracks on this recording demonstrate the originality that Jones and his bandmates have always possessed. It’s another example of the uniqueness that fans have come to expect from Chris Jones and his music.