Missy Werner’s new album, Turn This Heart Around, feels like two albums in one. Roughly half of the tracks feature the singer/mandolinist in a contemporary bluegrass setting with her road band, and the balance finds her singing modern acoustic country with a bevy of Nashville super-pickers.
Things get started in a mellow vein with I Always Do, written by Ashby Frank. It’s a sad, “missing you” song with a twist in the final verse. Missy is accompanied on this and several other tracks by Megan McCormick on guitar, Sierra Hull on mandolin, Thomas Wywrot on banjo, Maggie Estes White on fiddle and producer Jon Weisberger on bass.
The contrast between the two approaches is obvious on the second track, The Heart You Break, a nice bluegrass number from Paula Breedlove and Bob Morrison. It’s the sort of song that suits Werner’s voice perfectly, and she receives strong support from her Missy Werner Band.
Other grassy numbers include a new Gospel song, Travelin’ Light, from Rick Lang and Jon Weisberger, done in four part harmony, a la Flatt & Scruggs, and a nice version of Randall Hylton’s Rough Edges. Snake In The Grass is a mid-tempo banjo tune from Jeff Roberts, Missy’s regular banjo man.
>By far the strongest cuts are Rocks In The River from Eric Gibson, and Dead Man Walking, written by Larry Cordle and Erin Enderlin. Rocks is a rollicking, feel-good, smiley-grass song about wanting to die happy with the one you love. Dead Man is a mournful, lonesome one about a broken man killing himself slowly with alcohol and regret. Cordle adds a harmony vocal to the strong chorus for a powerful effect.
Throughout, Missy’s voice is front and center, though I’m not sure her lovely, plaintive voice is as good a match for the more country songs, except for Come Back To Me, by Jeremy Garrett and Jon Weisberger, where the long, high notes really stand out. It’s all performed crisply and expertly, and which songs you like best will depend primarily on your taste.
The members of the Missy Werner Band include Missy’s husband Artie on bass and harmony vocals, Tim Strong on guitar, and the aforementioned Roberts on banjo. Brandon Godman provides fiddle on several tracks.
Turn This Heart Around is available from iTunes and other popular download sites. CDs can be ordered from Werner’s web site, or purchased at any of their live shows.