Given the angst and uncertainty the world has encountered over the past 18 months, Waiting Out the Storm would seem to be an apt title for Billy Droze’s latest release. Then again, Droze knows a little something about longevity and making a mark over the course of a career. He’s written songs for The Grascals, Junior Sisk, Darryl Worley, Flatt Lonesome, Shenandoah, and Jamie O’Neil, and several of those recordings have climbed to the top of the charts. At the age of 35, he’s a seasoned performer who can claim some impressive credentials, including nominations for various IBMA and ICMA awards, as well as the honor of co-hosting the 2018 ICMA Awards at the Grand Ole Opry.
Still, like most artists, Droze’s abilities are best measured by his songs, and those that grace this latest album are clearly among his best yet. While the music is solidly enshrined within a bluegrass template, several could easily cross into country realms as well. As John Lawless, the esteemed editor of Bluegrass Today, once put it, “Billy’s not just a clever songwriter; he can sing bluegrass and country with the best of them. His voice betrays his love of both genres.”
That’s especially true here. Small Town Mystery, Miss Me Anymore, All You Gotta Do Is Listen, and the title track are solid and assured, songs that reflect both his confidence and conviction. Much of the music falls somewhere between an easy ramble and a tender tapestry, whether it’s the steady stride found in Here We Are, the ragged repast of Night Birds, the beguiling ballad, Bring on the Wind, or the down-home designs of She’s Still Here. Notably then, Droze produced the album single-handedly, and had a hand in writing all the material, save one track — Woman of My Life, a song which features his father Red Droze and, not surprisingly, boasts a distinctive countrified feel.
Taking this effort in its entirety, it’s evident that Droze’s wider recognition is only a matter of time. And indeed, if the name is any indication, Waiting Out the Storm should be the vehicle that affords him that fame. It’s an album flush with across-the-board appeal and the easy embrace that only the most memorable music can offer.