Georgia’s Shannon Leigh Reynolds has been at it for quite some time. Weened on rock and roll in the ’80s and ’90s, she first felt the urge to perform while enrolled in her high school theatre class. Later, in college, she familiarized herself with classic country and bluegrass, and shortly after the new millennium rolled around, she found herself singing in local bluegrass bands in the Washington, DC area. In 2017, she joined forces with banjo player, Keith Arneson and formed the acoustic duo, Peace Run Band. It allowed her to hone her vocal chops while also expanding her musical terrain, incorporating elements of bluegrass, classic country, and other folk styles into her repertoire.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Reynolds took the time to reimagine how the course of her career might progress once things opened up again. The result is her first solo album, Triple Shot, on Good Bygone Records, which finds her sharing her own original songs while deftly choosing some classic covers she chose to interpret in her own upbeat style. In some cases, she literally reinvents those tunes, transforming Jay Hawkins’ sinewy soul classic, I Put a Spell On You, with a sensual, seductive delivery that puts its own twist on the title. Buffy Sainte Marie’s Piney Wood Hills shares a swing and sway in the form of an uptempo romp. Three well-known standards — the John D. Loudermilk classic, Break My Mind, Be Here To Love Me by Townes Van Zant, and the perennial favorite, Mystery Train — are all treated to Reynolds’ rousing and robust delivery. On the other hand, Nanci Griffith’s I Wish It Would Rain gets the same thoughtful approach Griffith originally intended.
That’s not to say Reynolds’ own songs aren’t any less impressive. To the contrary, they find a fine fit with the covers. Closer To You offers a lively example of her homespun sentiment, and the sweet sincerity of Hold On qualifies it as a standout all on its own. The honky tonk warble of Not For Long, and the lively treatment given Gone For Good, each affirm Reynolds’ natural energy and exuberance.
An all-star outfit contributes their talents to the project, among them, veteran producer Dede Wyland; bassist Mark Schatz; Danny Knicely on guitar; John Seebeck playing mandolin and sharing harmony vocals; Fred Travers, who lends his skills on dobro and harmonies; longtime pal Keith Arneson on banjo; fiddler extraordinaire Ron Stewart; and backing volcalist Michelle Hannah and Randy Barrett.
Naturally, Reynolds herself is responsible for lead vocals, and ultimately that’s what adds further finesse to this most distinctive debut. Though a relative newcomer, Reynolds rules.