Personnel: Shawn Lane (vocals, guitar, mandolin, fiddle); Tim Stafford (vocals, guitar); Wayne Taylor (vocals); Jason Burleson (guitar, banjo, mandolin); Rob Ickes (lap steel guitar, dobro).
Audio Mixer: Jim Price .
Liner Note Author: Jon Weisberger.
Recording information: Maggard Sound, Big Stone Gap, VA.
Photographer: Kimberly Miller.
Sounds of Home, Blue Highway's tenth album in its 17-year existence, is also the bluegrass quintet's third CD, following Still Climbing Mountains and Through the Window of a Train, to consist entirely of original songs written by members of the group. It is a tribute to both the bandmembers' fidelity to bluegrass tradition and to their songwriting ability that it would be possible to listen to the disc without realizing that the material is all newly written. Shawn Lane (guitar, mandolin, fiddle, vocals), Wayne Taylor (bass, vocals), and Tim Stafford (guitar, vocals) with his writing partner Steve Gulley all contribute traditional-sounding numbers that touch on issues of love, family, work, faith, and, of course, home in a manner that never betrays the 21st century origins of the tunes, and the group, also including Rob Ickes (Dobro, slide guitar) and Jason Burleson (banjo, guitar, mandolin, vocals) plays them in traditional bluegrass styles that include melancholy ballads ("Sounds of Home" itself), instrumental breakdowns ("Roaring Creek"), and even an old-timey country sound (the steel guitar-infused "My Heart Was Made to Love You"). Lane's high tenor voice, reminiscent of Bill Monroe, adds to the traditional feel of "I Ain't Gonna Lay My Hammer Down" and "Nobody's Fault But Mine" when he sings lead, and also gives the required "high lonesome" feel when he provides harmonies. Love is professed and denied, nature is celebrated and feared, manual labor sustains and threatens ("Only Seventeen" follows a teenager down a mine), and, throughout, God rules the universe. And it's all set to some blistering fingerpicking on the acoustic instruments, making for an excellent Blue Highway album to add to the collection. ~ William Ruhlmann