The Road Not Taken – Darren Beachley

Darren Beachley is a recognizable force in bluegrass music. Known for his years as a member of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, as well as his leadership of the all star band, Darren Beachley & The Legends of the Potomac, The Road Not Taken is Beachley’s first new release in a number of years. With this project, Darren has not only gone back to his roots as a resophonic guitarist, but has also put together an eclectic mix of bluegrass and Americana material with backing from an incredible supporting cast of instrumentalists and vocalists.

The opening track, New Ballard Branch, written by Eli Johnston and Kevin McKinnon, sets the stage for what this project has to offer. Featuring Scott Vestal on banjo, Curtis Vestal on bass and baritone vocals, Clay Hess on guitar, Alan Bibey on mandolin, and Stephen Burwell on fiddle, this piece is also a great demonstration of Beachley’s vocal abilities as well as his skill on the dobro.

Listen To The Radio is perhaps the greatest example of Darren’s powerful voice. On this track he is singing all of the vocal parts and doing so strongly. Though the song was written by Nanci Griffith and recorded by Jonathan Edwards, Beachley’s rendition is captivating and unforgettable. This piece also leans into more of the Americana sound by incorporating the lap steel guitar (which is played by Darren), pedal steel by Troy Engle, and percussion by Josh Swift.

Forever Man, originally recorded by Eric Clapton, is given a fun newgrass treatment by Darren. Appropriately Sam Bush is featured on mandolin giving the song an authentic yet progressive flavor.

There’s several instances in which Beachley spotlights the talents of other vocalists. One such track is Ghost Of Who We Were which features Christy Shaver. Another is Big Iron featuring Mike Phipps of the Country Gentlemen Tribute Band. Though the arrangement follows Marty Robbins’ original 1959 recording fairly closely, Phipps’ overall delivery breathes new life into the song. This track also features T. Michael Coleman on fretless bass, lead guitar, and percussion, Wyatt Rice on rhythm guitar, and Pat White on fiddle and mandolin.

Memories Of My Younger Days is a traditional sounding piece which is reminiscent of the material Darren recorded as a member of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. Fittingly the track features Scott and Curtis Vestal, and Stephen Burwell who were members of Quicksilver at different points in their careers.

River Full Of Blues written by Rick Bartley features incredible duo singing from Beachley and Shawn Lane. With instrumental backing from Scott and Curtis Vestal, Clay Hess, Alan Bibey, and Stephen Burwell, this is without question a well-defined bluegrass song.

The Road Not Taken is arguably one of the best recordings released in 2022. This project has it all. Incredible vocals, musicianship, variety, and not a single bit of filler. This release is a marvelous comeback for Darren Beachley. It’s difficult to sum up how excellent this effort is. Take a trip down the road that Darren takes us on with this album. It’s a wonderful journey!

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About the Author

Braeden Paul

Braeden Paul has been involved in various capacities of bluegrass music. A Texas native, Paul has been part of several Dallas-based bands as a mandolinist. He also serves on the board of directors of the Southwest Bluegrass Club in Grapevine, TX. As a writer, Braeden has also contributed numerous music reviews to the Bluegrass Society of America Facebook page, and is the co-author of Texas Bluegrass History: High Lonesome on the High Plains.