For over twenty years Wildfire has been known for their stylistic blend of country tinged bluegrass along with more traditional sounds. Their latest effort, Quiet Country Town, brings together original material alongside the band’s interpretations of underutilized material from the classic country repertoire.
The project opens with Ride The Train, originally recorded by Alabama. Wildfire’s rendition of this country hit has a strong intro with powerful instrumental tradeoffs between banjoist Johnny Lewis, dobro player Matt DeSpain, and guitarist Robert Hale. This track is also one of several examples of the smooth vocal harmony the group has always possessed.
The title track, Quiet Country Town, penned by Hale, tells an interesting story. While there is contemplation and sadness surrounding lost love, there’s also a sense of contentment from the song’s protagonist about the simple town he lives in. Scott Vestal makes a guest appearance on banjo on this piece as well. His performance compliments both the song and the group fittingly.
What Would Your Memories Do is one of two standout tracks from this release. Written by Hank Cochran and Dean Dillon, this performance features delightful vocals from Dale Ann Bradley, as well as stellar instrumental turns from Matt DeSpain and guest Shawn Lane on fiddle.
Ain’t No California is the other most notable piece. This swingy song does a fine job showcasing the mandolin playing of the group’s newest member, Scott Napier. Although he’s an industry veteran, having worked with numerous artists such as Larry Sparks and Lost & Found, his picking is consistently fitting within the context of Wildfire’s sound. He’s a fine addition to the band.
I’ve Been Through It All, another original song by Hale, is the most traditionally oriented song on the entire project. The whole band really shines here both vocally and instrumentally.
The closing track, Help Me, is a song written by country legend Larry Gatlin. Featuring just guitar and voice, Robert Hale brings a vigorous performance to the table and conveys the message of the song very effectively.
Quiet Country Town is another great release from Wildfire. It will please longtime fans who have been waiting for a new release from the group, as well as those who are getting acquainted with Wildfire’s recognizable sound.