Dirty Linen (p.68) - "Songs come from a variety of surprising sources and include everything from a tongue-in-jowl gospel tune...to a bluegrass version of Sam Cooke's 'Bring It On Home to Me'..."
Dry Branch Fire Squad: Tom Boyd (vocals, tenor, dobro, banjo); Brian Aldridge (vocals, baritone, guitar, mandolin); Dan Russell (vocals, bass voice, banjo, bass instrument); Ron Thomason (vocals, guitar, banjo, claw hammer banjo, mandolin, percussion); Michael Cleveland (fiddle).
Personnel: Michael Cleveland (fiddle).
Audio Mixer: Steve Chandler.
Liner Note Author: Tom Adams.
Recording information: Bordley Palk's Recording Studio, New Lebanon, OH; Hilltop Recording Studios, Nashville, TN.
Photographer: David McClister.
Arranger: Ron Thomason.
Echoes of the Mountains, the first collection of new music from bluegrass, old-timey, and Southern gospel stalwarts Dry Branch Fire Squad since 2001's Hand Hewn, is as simple as the sky is blue, laying out 14 ballads, breakdowns, and tall tales that are as rustic, unfussy, and direct as the genres that cradle them. Founder, lead singer, and mandolin player Ron Thomason (the only constant since the band's inception in 1976) may lack the high and lonesome crooning abilities of other bluegrass singers, but his slightly off-key, Waylon Jennings-ish baritone adds considerable emotional weight to every track, be it rowdy and bold ("Dixie Cowboy") or downright heartbreaking ("Echo Mountain") -- the latter will reduce anyone who ever loved a dog to a puddle of tears. This latest incarnation of the band, which also includes Brian Aldridge (guitar, mandolin, and vocals), Dan Russell (bass and guitar), and Tom Boyd (banjo, Dobro, and vocals), is as capable and tight as ever, trading licks on standout cuts like "Grayson's Train" and "Rovin' Gambler" and harmonizing like 30-year veterans on the gospel nuggets "(You Got to Pray to the Lord) When You See Those Flying Saucers" and "Power in the Blood," resulting in a batch of songs that ranks high amidst a career of highlights. ~ James Christopher Monger