Audio Mixers: Drew Bollman; Justin Niebank.
Photographer: Jim McGuire .
Arranger: The Time Jumpers.
Although 2016's Kid Sister is only their third LP, Western swing ensemble the Time Jumpers have been a Nashville institution since the late '90s. Formed by a crew of top-shelf session players seeking a casual outlet outside of the studio, they became a Music City staple when they landed a weekly residency at The Station Inn playing old swing tunes, jazz, and pop standards. With 2007's live album Jumpin' Time, they parlayed their status as Monday night's hottest band into a couple of Grammy nominations, then added Vince Gill to the band as a guitarist and occasional frontman. Fast forward to 2016 and the Time Jumpers are still Monday night's hottest band, though their popularity caused them to move their weekly gig to the larger capacity 3rd & Lindsley. Following their 2012 self-titled studio debut, vocalist -- and wife of fiddler and founding member Kenny Sears -- Dawn Sears succumbed to cancer, leaving a major hole in what has become a tight-knit musical family. Named for and dedicated to Sears, Kid Sister is the group's first album since her passing and is the last to feature her powerhouse voice, which can be heard on the two opening tracks. While the Jumpers are most vibrant in front of an audience, they turn in a solid set here, full of heart, soul, and plenty of craft. Highlights include the instrumentally dazzling live favorite "All Aboard," the smoky "Blue Highway Blue," and the heartbreaking title cut. As on-stage, their unity as a ten-piece band is at the heart of what they do, with vocals and licks deftly passed back and forth among the ranks, despite having a well-known commodity in Gill. Among the fine Western swing covers and ballads are a number of Gill-penned songs, one of which -- "We're the Time Jumpers" -- acts as the group's theme song. Still, he and his bandmates are team players above all, faithfully serving this timeless brand of American music and, in this case, doing so in the spirit of Sears and her years of camaraderie and collaboration. ~ Timothy Monger