There’s something to be said for any group that’s been around seventeen years while accumulating ten albums and earning ongoing acclaim and enough awards to fill even the largest trophy shelf. So credit The Grascals with having done just that, while establishing themselves among the foremost players in today’s new bluegrass environs. A highly accredited band — and brand — this Nashville sextet has ascended to the highest tier of fame and popularity, one reason why each and every new offering is greeted with such anticipation.
Up All Night doesn’t distract from that premise, and while it can’t be presumed to be any sort of departure from anything they’ve done before, it reinforces the fact that they deserve the praise and platitudes that continue to come their way. So too, within those realms, variety and verve stay in sync. The upbeat instrumental, It’s A String Thing, contrasts decidedly with the gentle balladry of You Put Me First, which in turn, provides a soothing set-up to the song that follows, Remember Where You’re Going.
Mainly though, it’s their instrumental dexterity and commitment to cause that shine through. Even with their various shifts in membership over the years, they’ve managed to remain the tight and taut combo they’ve been since the very beginning. The band currently consists of John Bryan (guitar, vocals), Chris Davis (guitar, vocals), Adam Haynes (fiddle), Danny Roberts (mandolin), Kristen Scott Benson (banjo), and Terry Smith (bass, vocals), and while all the musicians are adept on their respective instruments — Benson and Roberts figure most prominently in the mix — they tend to rely mostly on other people’s material.
That’s not a distraction by any means — Korby Lenker, Shawn Lane, and Jerry Salley are prize contributors after all — but given the fact that the group effectively brand these songs with their own specific craft and creativity, there’s never any doubt that the material maintains a Grascals groove. It’s hard to imagine that anyone experiencing the tender tones of Flower and Lace, or the rousing revelry of Traveling the Highway Home, will fail to identify the source of these sounds. That makes Up All Night well worth the time it takes to enjoy.