After a three-year hiatus from recording, North Carolina-based band The Grass Cats is back with their eighth album, The Mountains My Baby and Me, out on New Time Records. The Grass Cats, who recently marked fifteen years as a band, have continued playing their modern traditional sound for this record, offering listeners a selection of originals from band members, as well as some unique cover songs from other genres.
The Grass Cats start things off right with the title track, an upbeat tune with tight harmony singing, penned by band members Russell Johnson and Rick LaFleur about a man who is excited to be returning home to two of his favorite things. The next song, Off and Gone, is not quite as happy. Written by Johnson, it features a man whose woman has wandering ways. Turning Point, a thoughtful tune also written by Johnson, speaks of a man who must make a choice between the bottle and the Bible. Meet Me Up in Heaven is an enjoyable, cheerful Gospel song with traditional-sounding harmonies.
The band’s choice of cover tunes is somewhat unusual for a bluegrass band. However, for a group who has previously covered such non-bluegrass songs as I Shot the Sheriff, Copperhead Road, and Take It on the Run, creating their own versions of tunes recorded by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Eric Clapton is not that uncommon. In their version of Clapton’s I Can’t Stand It, Tim Woodall’s electric bass helps create a great pulsing rhythm to convey the thoughts of a man who is completely fed up with the woman in his life. Both Springsteen’s Hungry Heart and Dylan’s classic Blowin’ in the Wind are given a nice contemporary bluegrass treatment.
Over the years, the Grass Cats have racked up an impressive list of achievements, including having four of their albums make it into the Top 10 on the Bluegrass Unlimited charts and several Top 10 Singles. With the solid musicianship from band members Johnson (mandolin), Lafleur (banjo), Woodall (bass), Chris Hill (fiddle), and newest addition Alan Mullen (guitar), as well as Johnson and Lafleur’s songwriting talents, this new album is sure to make its mark on the charts as well.
The Grass Cats will celebrate their fifteenth anniversary, as well as their new album, this Saturday, January 5, with a concert featuring current and former band members at The Arts Center in Carrboro, NC. Tickets and information can be found on The Arts Center’s website.
For more information about The Grass Cats, visit their website at www.grasscats.com.
The Mountains My Baby and Me can be purchased from the band website, as well as most online music retailers.