Since making the decision to pursue music full-time in 2011, Callahan, Florida’s Harris family – better known as Trinity River Band – has experienced quite a run of success. With songs like Better than Blue, How Blue, and Rusty Old American Dream receiving frequent airplay on bluegrass radio, and attention on the national charts, the group has quickly earned itself the respect of fans and critics alike. Their latest album, Things We Do For Dreams, was recently released on Orange Blossom Records and just might be their best effort yet.
Riding the powerhouse voice of mandolin player and eldest sister Sarah Harris, the album’s lead single, Come Back Train, became the group’s first number one single earlier this year. Written by Jerry Salley and Cassidy Lynn Alexander, it’s a fiery song that finds the singer begging a train to bring back the man who left her behind. Kudos to younger sister Brianna and brother Joshua for their commanding fiddle and banjo playing on this track. Sarah’s mandolin kicks off another strong track, the much more mellow Me and Jolene, a sweet story about the bond between two sisters from the pens of Kim Fox and Brandon Rickman. The lyrics here are made especially poignant coming from a family band, and the ladies’ harmonies are pure and clear.
Another highlight is the country-tinged cover of Dolly Parton’s Silver and Gold, a Gospel song written by Carl Perkins. You can hear a touch of Dolly’s earnestness in Sarah’s vocals as she sings a powerful message shared by an old man on the street: “Silver and gold might buy you a home, but things of this world, they won’t last you long… And time can’t be bought back with silver and gold.” It’s easily my favorite song on the album. The Promised Land is a similarly sincere number. From the title, I was expecting a straightforward Gospel song, but there’s a twist – the singer (this time, dad Mike) has strayed far from his small-town roots and upbringing in his mother’s church, and is longing to return. Mike gives the song a strong sense of regret; you can hear the yearning in his voice.
Right Where She Left Him will likely tug at the heartstrings of many listeners. It’s a very well-written number from Kim Fox and Craig Market about a man who can’t bear to leave the home he shared with his late wife. With a simple, gentle contemporary arrangement and thoughtful details about the memories made by a sewing machine, it’s a bittersweet love story. The Mirror is another song filled with memories. Using a mirror from her grandparents’ home as a metaphor for moments spent with loved ones, the singer ultimately realizes that “there’s more in that mirror than just me.” Brianna takes the lead on this track, offering heartfelt vocals.
Time’s a Crooked Thing, written by Irene Kelley and Becky Buller, has a bluesy vibe, a sound Trinity River Band has proven they enjoy on their previous albums. Mike sets the tone with his guitar opening, while mom Lisa provides groove with a neat bass line. Slightly on the more traditional side of things – modern traditional, that is – is My Own Worst Enemy, one of three originals from Sarah on this project. With gritty lead vocals and ominous lyrics, it’s certainly one of the darker tracks here. Fans of nineties grass should enjoy the title track, with its “follow your dreams” theme and Highway 40 Blues vibe.
Though Trinity River Band has always offered solid contemporary bluegrass to their fans, Things We Do For Dreams strikes me as their strongest album to date. Many of the group’s radio hits have provided opportunities for vocal and instrumental acrobatics, but they are at their best (in my opinion) on the thoughtful, more melodic numbers like Me and Jolene, Silver and Gold, and Right Where She Left Him. However, the song selection here is strong, and the instrumentation is top-notch. I was pleased to hear the mixture of voices on the album – the group is packed with fine singers, and we get to hear each of them play to their strengths. The band should earn plenty of new fans with this recording.
For more information on Trinity River Band, visit them online at www.trinityriverband.com. Their new album is available from several music retailers.