After several years spent reworking the group’s past hits in the form of the acclaimed Chronology trilogy, the Lonesome River Band is back again with an all-new thirteen-track collection, showcasing the fantastic modern traditional bluegrass that has become their hallmark over the past three decades. Perhaps the best way to describe Turn on a Dime, their new effort from Mountain Home Music Company, is that from start to finish, it’s a Lonesome River Band album – just what fans have come to expect from one of the most consistent hitmakers in bluegrass music.
Among the many standouts here is the catchy Her Love Won’t Turn on a Dime, a cheerful love song about a lady who could care less about flowers and candy. “Throw your wallet in the river,” Brandon Rickman advises, “cause her heart don’t see dollar signs.” Bonnie Brown flips that song on its head, sharing the misfortunes of a man who has fallen for a woman who, unfortunately, seems to only care about money and gifts. It’s an upbeat, toe-tapping traditional piece, with Rickman and mandolin player Randy Jones sharing lead vocal duties.
Teardrop Express is another highlight, with a great 90s vibe. Jones’ lead vocal is full of lonesome, and the song has a strong, pulsing rhythm that works well with the train metaphor in the lyrics. Gone and Set Me Free is a nice take on the standard bluegrass themes of leaving and losing, again with strong singing from Jones.
Though the majority of the songs here hearken back to the classic LRB sound, that’s not to say there aren’t a few surprises. Don’t Shed No Tears has a Frank Solivan-esque feel, particularly from Mike Hartgrove’s fiddling. A bit out of left field is the slow groove of Shelly’s Winter Love. It’s not Merle Haggard, and it’s not the Osborne Brothers, but it works regardless, perhaps thanks to the pining in Jones’ voice. The humorous Every Head Bowed has a bit more of an acoustic country feel than most of the rest of the album. Rickman’s tongue-in-cheek, slightly smart-alecky delivery fits the song well, and its story of a typical Sunday as a Baptist child will likely strike a chord with many listeners.
>Closing out the album is a peppy, driving Cumberland Gap, anchored by Hartgrove’s fiddle and supplemented well by Jones’ mandolin and Sammy Shelor’s ever-solid banjo. Like the group’s award-winning version of Angeline the Baker from a few years back, this is an enjoyable, nicely executed modern update of what, in the hands of lesser musicians, might be just another jam standard.
I’ve had a copy of Turn on a Dime for a couple of weeks now, and it’s hardly been out of my stereo since. Shelor, Rickman, Jones, Hartgrove, and bass man Barry Reed are in top form here, and both new and longtime fans should certainly enjoy listening.
For more information on the Lonesome River Band, visit their website at www.lonesomeriverband.com. Their new album can be purchased from a variety of online music retailers.