With the two previous albums they’ve recorded so far, Backline have clearly made a formidable impression on their newfound fans and admirers. Singer Katelyn Ingardia is the band’s prime presence, and her stunning vocals electrify every song that finds her standing at center stage. That’s not meant to dismiss the other musicians in the band — Travis Tucker (dobro, vocals), Zach Carter (banjo, vocals), Jason Belue (bass, vocals), and Milom Williams (mandolin, vocals) — but it simply affirms the fact that every outfit has an individual that helps them stand out, and in Backline’s case, Ingardia clearly provides one of the more essential elements.
The other factor that this Spartanburg, South Carolina band uses to their advantage is an affable and ebullient delivery, one that grabs listeners’ attention and encourages them to lean in for more. The robust revelry that accompanies such songs as Good Cause I’m Gone, Strange Woman and Gonna Move would likely find even the most stoic critic professing abject admiration.
The group excels with other offerings as well, whether it’s the jaunty pacing of Won’t You Please Come Back to Me, the beguiling balladry of Better Days or the earnest engagement that characterizes a song like Strange Woman in particular. Even when they give Gospel a go, the music still comes across with an easy affability. That’s apparent on He’s the One, a song that gives their decidedly devotional stance a personal perspective. Likewise, when they turn their attention to Rose Marie, the tale of an attractive hometown sweetheart who stays well out of reach of her ardent admirers, the sentiments that are shared are readily relatable.
Granted, there’s a lot of younger bands competing in bluegrass realms these days, but the ability to ply instant appeal is the main thing that sets the more credible contenders apart. Only time will tell if Backline’s able to sustain that high standard, but if Salem Town on Mountain Fever Records is any indication, the potential for them to do is already well established.