The Lonesome River Band has been seminal in bridging the worlds of traditional and modern Bluegrass and bringing new fans to the music. As pioneering innovators, they have set a benchmark with their award-winning albums and have established an immediately recognizable sound that has influenced a generation of roots music musicians.
Lonesome River Band’s established legacy continues with their new release, Outside Looking In, with songs that reflect who and what this band is and the culture they come from.
The flawless groove of the first three tracks — “Curiosity Killed This Cat,” “New Ballards Branch” and the title track, “Outside Looking In” — personifies the “deep-pocket” timing of Lonesome River Band’s celebrated banjo master Sammy Shelor, five-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Banjo Player of the Year award and 2011 winner of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. These songs and others like “Cassidy’s Prayer Book” and “Your Memory Wins Again” contain the heart of the band’s message of themes steeped in the genre’s tradition, presented in clever lyrics, instrumental prowess, and heartfelt vocals.
Over the decades, the distinguished sound of Lonesome River Band’s vocalists have set the band apart. For the last 12 years, guitarist Brandon Rickman has held the role as lead singer. Rickman’s vocals on songs like “Wreck of My Heart” are a robust, Country style and a quintessential part of the band’s sound. The voice of mandolinst Jesse Smathers is classic in its higher register as he shares lead vocal duties when he’s not vaulting above Rickman with his impactful tenor. This is showcased in songs like “Little Magnolia” with its waltz meter and seamless brother-like harmonies.
Together with the baritone parts shared by Shelor and ace bassist Barry Reed, the album’s themes of love, betrayal, murder and prayer are portrayed with the shrewd mastery that only a band performing at the highest level can create.
The album closes with Mark Knopfler ‘80s released, ‘50s nostalgia tune “Calling Elvis,” the first single released off the album. The spirit of the original is captured and transformed in a way that makes for a smooth, well-executed merging of two styles. LRB’s “jam” section included in this track shows a band who continues to break the traditional mold musically.
The themes of Outside Looking In are a time-honored part of the Bluegrass cannon. They inform the very backbone of the music and Lonesome River Band has a way of framing them in modern terms moving the genre forward.
About Lonesome River Band
Since its formation 35 years ago, Lonesome River Band continues its reputation as one of the most respected names in Bluegrass music. Five-time International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Banjo Player of the Year, and winner of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, Sammy Shelor leads the group that is constantly breaking new ground in Acoustic music. With two stellar lead vocalists, Brandon Rickman (guitar) and Jesse Smathers (mandolin), with impressive talents of Mike Hartgrove (fiddle) and Barry Reed (bass), the band seamlessly comes together, performing the trademark sound that fans continue to embrace.