Darin & Brooke Aldridge have always towed a fine line between bluegrass revelry and the beauty of their ballads. For some, that would be a difficult divide, but given this duo’s acute instrumental abilities and superior singing skills, they manage to accommodate both. Their terrific new album, the descriptively titled This Life We’re Livin’, offers another ideal example, bringing with it all the rapturous joy that the title implies. The sentiment is assured, and even though they’re only responsible for writing fewer than half of the twelve songs that encompass this set, their effusive emotion and clear commitment make each their own.
The entreaties are obvious, even at the outset. Blue Baby Now is an ideal album opener, a rallying cry flush with abject enthusiasm. The Gospel-tinged ramble, He’s Gettin’ Me Ready, is enlivened by guest vocals from the Oak Ridge Boys, and their shared harmonies are well suited to not only rally the faithful but also incite some enthusiasm from everyone else as well. That overt optimism extends to the slower songs too — the easily assured No Mistakes, the confident caress of My Life’s Living Me and the soothing and serene devotional duet, Old Fashioned, a song they’ve previously introduced in concert, and one that ideally defines their mutual mantra.
Naturally, there’s an instrumental acumen within these expressive arrangements that put the performances in perspective. Ron Block’s banjo, Bryan Sutton’s guitar, Stuart Duncan’s fiddle, Jacob Metz’s dobro playing, and co-producer Mark Fain playing bass form the core of each track, adding an effective foundation for Brooke’s emotive vocals and Darin’s shared singing. As a result, every song rings with a resilience, one that never fails to uplift and enliven the proceedings. “I can be anything,” the pair insist throughout a heartfelt rendition of Livin’ Mama’s Dream, written by the Aldridges with David Morris and Dawn Kenney. In fact, that devotion and determination resonate through practically every offering, affirming the fact that the Aldridges have found a peace and prosperity they’re able to emanate consistently.
With eight previous albums to their credit, Darin and Brooke Aldridge have established themselves as something akin to the Johnny and June of the present day, a couple so in sync they’re clearly inseparable. As a result, This Life We’re Livin’ ought to be inspiring to us all.