Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road purvey the essence of traditional bluegrass, but play their songs with an edge and urgency that often hints at a deeper designs. While the vocals and instrumentation pay heed to archival precedents — Bill Monroe in particular is referenced in the title track, a tune that effectively rebuffs all those who might demean this type of music due to its purity and purpose — they are obviously unafraid to show commitment to their cause. “Why can’t bluegrass just be true grass again?,” they sing, posing the central question while referencing the fact that the basic sound and style of bluegrass has been subject to so many permutations of late.
That determination to retain the honesty and integrity of the form becomes an essential theme throughout, and three of the central tracks that True Grass has to offer — Pickin’ Rock Out of the Bluegrass, Little Country Home and Preaching Praying Singing — extol the virtues of an old time sound without the need to tap into modern conceits. Although there’s more than a hint of idyllic innocence implied throughout, it’s also worth noting that the subjects they sing about are frequently grounded in cold, harsh reality. I Don’t Want To Lose You is a plea to a wandering lover, as sung with majesty multi-part harmonies. Run Little Fox may appear to be about a critter on the run, but it could also be interpreted as an ode to anyone trying to escape the torments and tribulations of everyday life.
Another Soldier laments the loss of another brave member of the military who made the ultimate sacrifice, while I Hear Angels Calling Your Name offers a sense of loss that becomes both palpable and personal given its attempt to reconcile that death with faith and fulfilment. “Life on earth without you can never be the same,” Jordan and company declare, even while indicating that the person who’s now gone has fortunately found their ultimate reward.
It’s that supreme sense of comfort that’s also manifest throughout. That’s the result of True Grass Again staying true to its intents, all honorable ones at that. Give credit to Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road for finding direction that returns to the roots.