It’s appropriate that singer Dede Wyland should name her latest Patuxent album Urge for Going. To be sure, it has nothing to do with wanderlust, although Wyland is one of those artists that have helped push bluegrass forward into modern realms. Rather, it has to do with the fact that the title song is an early example of Joni Mitchell‘s songwriting skills, and like Mitchell, Wyland could be considered a a woman who made a marked impression on a specific musical genre. She’s parlayed that influence for the better part of the past 40 years, having previously performed with Tony Trischka and several outfits of her own.
Mitchell isn’t the only artist that she offers homage to here. Carter Stanley’s sweetly sentimental Could You Tell Me You Love Me One More Time, John Hartford sprightly co-write, Dance In Old Kentucky, a take on the Everly Brothers standard, Let It Be Me, Hank William’s revered Lost on the River and a cover of the Suzy Boguss classic, Music On the Wind, also find a place in the set list, each an appropriate choice considering Wyland’s own venerable perspective. Yet, even though she nods to some past precepts, her emotive and effusive vocals bring a fresh finesse to each of those offerings. Credit too the harmonies that come courtesy of special guests Kathy Kallick, Laurie Lewis, and Frank Solivan, all of whom help convey that caress.
So too, the instrumental arrangements are all of an acoustic nature, with fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and guitar providing a solid yet supple foundation. It’s little wonder; the album features contributions from members of the Seldom Scene and other musicians drawn from Washington DC’s musical environs, the place Wyland still calls home. Consequently, even the more rousing portions of the proceedings perfectly complement the songs’ seemingly easy and effortless embrace.
As a result, Urge for Going isn’t simply the best record of Wyland’s career, but also an effort that well represents bluegrass in all its variety and vitality. It’s long past time Wyland was recognized for both her talent and tenacity.