As has been noted on these pages previously, Billy Droze has all the makings of a superstar. With any number of hit singles to his credit — which he’s penned for The Grascals, Junior Sisk, Flatt Lonesome, Darryl Worley, Shenandoah, and Chris Myers, among others — he’s been well represented both on the charts and in other prominent spheres. His upward trajectory began with his debut album, To Whom It May Concern, which spawned five mega hit singles under his own auspices, as well as a number of nods from the Grammys, IBMA, and CMA as well.
Of course the real test of an artist’s durability falls to the sophomore set, one which offers far less time to conceive when compared to the years that led up to an initial outing. Happily, on Renaissance, Droze has proven that his success so far was no fluke. He had a hand in writing every song in the set, and the diversity and dynamics he displays here finds him operating at a level that’s still as impressive as ever. Whether it’s the upbeat appeal of Coal Fed Train, the south of the border balladry of She Broke My Heart in Spanish or the winsome reflection of If It Wasn’t for a Song, Droze proves he’s a master of emotion, a singer capable of conveying both an eager affability, and a heart-worn desire all within the space of a few select songs.
It’s notable too that Renaissance includes three songs that made it to the top of the charts even before the album’s release.
To his credit, Droze stays faithful to a basic bluegrass template, but his tendency to lean on less as opposed to more allows the songs themselves to take center stage. As a songwriter, Droze is committed to, and cognizant of, the need to alter the template, a tack he demonstrates consistently throughout. That’s not to say he doesn’t have some superb support here — Tommy Emanuel, Shenandoah, the Isaacs, and producer Ronnie Bowman all aid in the effort.
Nevertheless, this is the work of a singular talent — ICMA’s reigning Inspirational Bluegrass Music Artist of the Year no less — and one that future generations will likely look to someday to find inspiration of their own.