Many singer-songwriters spend most of their career without having their songs cut by a hit artist. Some, however, enjoy great success. Perhaps it would be wise of us (myself included) to take note of the work of songwriters like Ray Edwards. A recent Rural Rhythm release, Portrait of a Bluegrass Songwriter, showcases some of Edwards’s finest material, including cuts by such bands as Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out, Monroeville, and Special Consensus.
This album samples tunes cut by a variety of artists. Edwards is credited as cowriter on all of the songs, collaborating with (among others) some of his friends and writing partners from Silver Stirrup Music. The album begins with the driving Hard Rock Mountain Prison (‘Til I Die), a previously recorded song which was released by Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out on their self-titled 2009 album. This tune is often used to kick off IIIrd Tyme Out shows, and serves well as an album opener. Another up-tempo song follows close behind, with the Darrell Webb Band contribution When the Love We Have is Gone. The lyrics of this tune caution a woman who won’t stay at home that soon she might not have anyone to come home to.
The album’s first single, My Name is Jimmy Martin (Do You Remember Me?) features an all-star team of vocalists, including Marty Raybon, Darrell Webb, Lou Reid, and Russell Moore. The song is a nice tribute to the King of Bluegrass, and even includes Edwards playing many of the most recognizable banjo licks from Jimmy Martin tunes. Old Steamboats and Trains, performed here by Grasstowne with Dustin Pyrtle on lead vocals, is a standout song about a man who was born to ramble. Where My Darlin’ Waits for Me, performed by Ray Edwards and HardRock Mountain, has an interesting melody line that runs throughout the song. Josh Goforth contributes triple fiddles, while Don Risgby offers powerful lead vocals.
Edwards has assembled a great cast of vocalists and musicians for this project. Overall, the tunes are fairly traditional sounding, with country influences throughout, such as Nu-Blu’s rendering of the sweet love story Blue Ridge Mountain Snow. If the songs on this album are any indication, there’s no doubt that we’ll be hearing much more from this noted songwriter – both from his pen and as a musician.
Portrait of a Bluegrass Songwriter can be purchased from a variety of online music retailers, including Amazon and iTunes.