Every touring musician knows the difference between a twisting, turning road and a miles-long straightaway — whether that road is the literal one on which they spend so much of their time or a metaphor for career and for life. The Grascals certainly know it, as challenges and changes have mixed with top industry awards, 3 GRAMMY nominations, 2 IBMA Entertainer Of The Year awards, late-night TV appearances, frequent guest appearances on The Grand Ole Opry and more in a career now in its 15th year. And with the release of their latest Mountain Home collection, Straighten The Curves, on August 30, the veteran ensemble shows that they’re moving full speed ahead toward new horizons.
With two of the set’s tracks already out — and having already topped the charts — Straighten The Curves looks briefly backward even as it introduces a strong new addition in Chris Davis, who contributes solid guitar picking, stellar harmonies and compelling lead vocals that perfectly complement the singing of veteran members John Bryan and founding member Terry Smith. But though the lineup has changed, you wouldn’t know it from the sextet’s masterful performances encompassing their signature mix of bluegrass and country-flavored originals, country classics, gospel treasures and sparkling instrumentals.
From start to finish, then, this is vintage Grascals — confident, clear-eyed, and filled with a spirit of adventure that’s always looking down the road, whether it leads away from or back to home. These are themes woven through the course of the project, from the lively Becky Buller-penned opener, “My Virginia Mama,” to the group’s revival of Eddie Rabbitt’s 80s country hit, “Drivin’ My Life Away,” and the defiant getaway of the title track, penned by Canadian old-time and bluegrass stalwart Chris Coole.
In true Grascals form, there are a couple of stellar gospel numbers given luminous readings by Bryan (“The Shepherd Of My Valley”) and Davis (“What Does God Look Like”) alongside a pair of ballads in the thoughtful “They Laughed” and a melancholy “Don’t Leave Your Memory Behind,” the mandolin-led picking showcase, “AndiWayne,” and a pair of grassy lovelorn laments in “Calling Your Name” and “Who Needs You.”
With the vocal trio of Bryan (guitar), Davis (guitar) and Smith (bass) backed by an instrumental trio that includes Kristin Scott Benson, four-time IBMA Banjo Player of the Year and recipient of the Steve Martin Award, founding member Danny Roberts (mandolin), a seven-time SPBGMA Mandolin Player Of The Year, and master fiddler Adam Haynes, The Grascals are a formidable presence in the world of bluegrass.
Infusing a musical wisdom developed and refined through years of steady creativity on stage and in the studio with the fresh energy brought by new talent, The Grascals are at the top of their game — ready to delight long-time fans and make some new ones, too, as they Straighten The Curves.
Return To Crossroads Label Group