Personnel: Cody Kilby (guitar); Randy Kohrs (dobro); Justin Moses (banjo); Andy Leftwich (mandolin, fiddle).
Recording information: Pedestal Records; Skaggs Place Studios.
Photographer: Anthony Ladd.
Tunes from the Roys' debut album, Lonesome Whistle, were still riding high on the bluegrass charts more than a year after its release. The songs on New Day Dawning should do just as well, and this time out, most of them were written by Lee and Elaine. Every note here is played and sung with joy and the uplifting quality of their debut is still in evidence here. The title track reminds listeners that no matter how dark the clouds get, the sun will always rise in the morning. Elaine sings lead on this sprightly pop/bluegrass tune with Randy Kohrs supplying uplifting Dobro fills throughout. The album has two songs about funerals, but they avoid becoming maudlin with their understated delivery. "Daddy to Me" tells the story of a father's passing, with friends and family painting the picture of a good man who led a full, rich, honorable life. "Grandpa's Barn" paints a portrait of an old man's life by listing some of the things he treasured -- a white Cadillac, an eight-track player with a Johnny Cash album in it. Lee's vocals on both tracks are full of the understated emotion that marks all great country singers. Elaine sings lead on "Still Standing," the record's most traditional track, a bluegrass rave-up that celebrates the end of a bad relationship and the promise of better things to come. The band is in full flight throughout, with Kohrs' Dobro and Andy Leftwich's fiddle particular standouts. The record is a tad short at 24 minutes, but the Roys fill every second with plenty of heart and soul and their close harmonies remain a thing of beauty. ~ j. poet