Bluegrass powerhouse Sideline saw great success with their acclaimed 2018 release Front and Center and its single, “Thunder Dan,” which topped the year-end chart as the #1 Bluegrass song in radio, and followed that accolade by winning the IBMA’s Song of the Year in 2019.
Now, the finely honed sextet pushes forward with Breaks To The Edge, a collection of songs that range from high-energy traditional Bluegrass to progressive destinations and all points in between. Reflecting the North Carolina group’s roots and experiences, the set includes stories of traveling troubadours like that told in their radio single, “Return to Windy Mountain,” a nostalgic reminiscence of country living in “Southern Wind,” a classic bluegrass ballad of tragedy, “Down in the Willow Garden,” the reproachful Stanley Brothers favorite, “Your Selfish Heart” and more.
On the more progressive side, Breaks To The Edge offers a cover of Steve Wariner’s “Crash Course in the Blues,” with Skip Cherryholmes taking the vocal lead on a wry tale that justifies the album title with Southern-rock style jams. At the other end of the spectrum, the classic southern gospel song ”I’ll Live Again” highlights Sideline’s refined vocal abilities with supremely blended 4-part harmony.
The high lead vocal of guitarist Bailey Coe flies above Sideline’s blended harmonies in a pair of furiously up-tempo barnburners (“Digging My Own Grave” and “Roll on Blues”), providing a flavorful contrast to Troy Boone’s aggressive lead vocals and mandolin playing on the tragic love song “Amy.” Supple, energetic fiddling from Daniel Greeson spurs songs like “Square Dance Town” but also lends a haunting, mournful opening to “Return To Windy Mountain.”
Throughout, the band’s tight mix of power and dynamics is driven by the pocket and pulse of original member Steve Dilling’s award winning banjo and co-founder Jason Moore’s bass, while Cherryholmes, the third colleague at the group’s heart, dishes up impressive flatpicking from start to finish.
With a loaded national performance schedule and now their 5th studio album, Sideline continues to be a tour de force in Bluegrass. Breaks To The Edge captures this power, making a statement that Sideline will continue to do what’s propelled them to this point.