After performing together for the past several decades in and around their home base of southern Indiana, husband and wife duo Jim and Lynna Woolsey have released their first album together. The record, The Road That Brings You Home, is somewhat unique for a debut, in that it consists of all-original material written by the couple. The twelve tracks here all have a strong contemporary bluegrass flavor, and feature solid writing and musicianship.
The Woolseys touch on most of the standard bluegrass topics on this album, but they’re not just telling the same old stories. One of the best numbers here is Gypsies in a Wagon, which hits on the rambling lifestyle so popular in bluegrass. This cheerful, mid-tempo number tells of a traveling welder who chose to take his family with him as he wandered throughout the country. It’s sort of the other side of the lonesome leaving song, with nice, image-filled lines like “Daddy needed room to shift gears while momma held his coffee cup.” The opening track, Wheel in His Hand, is another nod to a truck-driving father, sung from the perspective of a son who wishes he could see him once again.
Letter from the City, on the other hand, takes a page from Larry Sparks’ hit John Deere Tractor, with the singer realizing that he should have never left home. It’s a well-written ode to choices and mistakes, anchored by the line “If I only knew then what I knew now, I’d be back home behind a plow.” Runaway Train features a nice mixture of banjo and dobro, courtesy of Mike Sumner and Randy Kohrs. It’s a classic train song, sung well by Jim.
>Written by Jim about his great-grandfather, Rude Jenne tells an interesting story. After stealing food to help a friend during the Great Depression, Rude winds up in jail, where he has the chance to join up with the infamous John Dillinger. The song has a bluesy groove helped along by Kohrs’ dobro and Tim Crouch’s fiddle. I’m the Best You’ll Ever Do also pulls from the blues sound. Lynna takes care of the lead vocals on this feisty number, stepping into the shoes of a woman who is tired of her husband taking her for granted.
On the album, the couple is joined by some of today’s best musicians. In addition to Crouch, Sumner, and Kohrs, the album’s band includes Mark Fain (bass) and Clay Hess (mandolin). Jim adds guitar, and the couple shares vocal duties. This is a fine debut from two talented artists. Though this is Jim and Lynna’s first foray into the national bluegrass scene together, their songs are sure to gain them notice.
For more information on the couple and their music, visit their website at www.jimandlynnawoolsey.com. Their new album, out now from Broken Record Records, can be purchased from a variety of online music retailers.