Personnel: Chris Stapleton, Gary Nichols (vocals, guitar); Tammy Rogers (vocals, fiddle, viola, cello); Mike Fleming (vocals); Richard Bailey (banjo); Brent Truitt (mandolin).
Audio Mixers: Kyle Manner; Brent Truitt.
Liner Note Author: Juli Thanki.
Recording information: Station West, Nashville, TN; The Cave, Nashville, TN; The NuttHouse Recording Studio, Sheffield, AL.
Editor: Brent Truitt.
Photographer: Mickey Dobó.
On their third album, the SteelDrivers continue to forge their own unique path in the world of bluegrass/acoustic music. They play music that sounds like bluegrass on the surface, but they usually eschew the high lonesome harmonies of traditional bluegrass for a more mainstream approach that often sounds like hardcore country gone acoustic. New guitarist Gary Nichols' lead vocals owe as much to rock as they do to country and bluegrass, and the subject matter wanders far astray of the usual concerns of bluegrass traditions. Everyone in the band is a seasoned Nashville vet, so while they never sound like they're trying to consciously stretch the limits of bluegrass, they do so just by being themselves. "Wearin' a Hole" is a hardcore country drinkin' song full of heartache and booze, with Richard Bailey's banjo playing what would be a guitar solo on a country track. The harmonic banjo and fiddle hook makes "Burnin' the Woodshed Down" a standout. It turns the usual lament about hard times inside-out when the singer decides to vent his anger with an act of arson. Nichols strikes an R&B chord on "Cry No Mississippi," a kiss-off to a faithless lover from a lover who holds his head up high as he tells her he "won't beg or crawl" or "cry no Mississippi." The opener, "Shallow Grave," is the closest the band comes to traditional bluegrass; it's an old-fashioned murder ballad that sounds like it's 200 years old, with Tammy Rogers contributing wailing lonesome fiddling and Bailey adding his desolate banjo picking. ~ j. poet