CD REVIEW: The Grascals - The Grascals & Freinds
By: Cyrus Rhodes
Bluegrass, Classic Americana, R&B
Tennessee’s own The Grascals” release their latest CD Grascals & Friends in 2011. Band members include Jeremy Abshire, Kristin Scott Benson, Terry Eldredge, Jamie Johnson, Danny Roberts & Terry Smith.
The CD kicks kinks things off Buck Owens classic “Tiger by the Tail” a rockabilly intro piece that serves up slamming country rock groove against well placed vocal harmonies, hot guitar licks, & features a Vocal from Brad Paisley. Track 2 “Dooley” keeps thing moving in the Bluegrass direction with its smooth flowing rockabilly groove, impressive banjo chops making for an impressive follow up ballad. Track 3 an impressive remake of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” featuring Dierks Bentley. Clearly the Grascals put their stamp on this piece as it dishes out full tilt rhythm section & some fancy fretwork that will make your head spin. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 solid songs in a row. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. I would classify this music as classic Bluegrass, R&B, with a classic Americana aftertaste. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like fiddles, mandolin, impressive solo guitar, piano, & some lush harmonies layered everywhere. As this CD slowly unfolds its obvious the players in The Grascals are quite accomplished. The rhythm section pushes the natural accents well. But what I like the most about this band is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of rehearsal time no doubt. This CD from “The Grascals” delivers 14 solid tracks all providing musical enjoyment filled with strong musical variety & rich diversity. This catalogue personifies the life experience with high highs & low lows. From jumping “Boil them Cabbage Down” & “Ol Joe Clark” to easy flowing “Stay a Little Longer” to heartfelt “I am Strong” this CD has something for just about everyone. Dolly Parton appears on “Pain of Loving You”, Tom T Hall appears on “The Year that Clayton Delaney Died”, Charlie Daniels “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” & The Oakridge Boys on Leaving Louisiana in Broad Day Light”.. The CD ends with “Cracker Barrel Swing” a perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber. There’s even a bonus track at the end.
It’s had to find any serious weaknesses with this CD. No doubt it’s an amazing snapshot of some classic cover songs - all timeless & enjoyable. However I only wish there were more original songs on the CD showcasing The Grascals writing skills. Though the Grascals have a solid look I wouldn't call this the most marketable CD I've ever heard. Some of the songs date back almost 30 ago.
From start to finish Grascals & Friends is an impressive collection of music from The Grascals. The production - world class, all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire catalogue. The writing & playing abilities of The Grascals are rock solid. The melodies & harmonies are well crafted, & the musical guest appearances make it a joy to listen to.