Album Review: Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out — Timeless Hits from the Past Bluegrassed

Henry L. Carrigan, Jr. | February 22nd, 2013

russellmooretimelessSometimes albums break new ground, and sometimes albums are retreats to the tried and true. Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out’s newest certainly breaks no new ground, and the band anchors itself in the safe harbor of classic country and pop music, offering up its own special bluegrass take on the songs. Members of the band decided to select songs for this album that had influenced them, either individually or as a band, musically, and the album contains some real gems.

It’s fitting that the album kicks off with a tender version of John Hartford’s often-covered “Gentle on My Mind,” a tribute to an exceptional musician and songwriter who influenced so many artists across various genres. Sonya Isaacs lends her clear-as-a-bell voice to the band’s exalted cover of the great Bobby Braddock/Rafe Van Hoy tune, “Golden Ring,” and Pam Tillis’ emphatic and forceful voice gives new energy to IIIrd Tyme Out’s classic ballad, “John and Mary.”  The boys in the band show off their vocal range and musical depth and breadth in their cover of The Platters’ “Only You,” a song they’ve been performing a cappella at shows for many years now. It’s pretty hard to improve on Gene Watson’s “Farewell Party,” though IIIrd Tyme Out catches just the right blend of mournfulness and plaintive fiddling and humor in their version; the band’s straight-ahead bluegrass version of “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” however, vastly outdistances John Denver’s poppy standard, delivering a tune full of yearning to get back to that special home place.

While some of these “bluegrassed” covers work better than others, the album nevertheless celebrates twenty years of the band’s playing together and showcases the incredible talent of a group of superlative bluegrass musicians.

3.5 Stars

Preview or purchase Timeless Hits from the Past Bluegrassed

  1. Ben Foster
    February 22, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    This is a very good album, and after reading this I may have to go back and listen to it again. “I particularly enjoyed “Golden Ring” and “Gentle On My Mind.”

  2. Rick
    February 22, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    It’s a shame this project wasn’t undertaken by a bluegrass band that had a lead singer who could actually sing, like say the Grass Cats!…(lol)

    So is it better to “country-ize” bluegrass songs or vice-versa? Hmm…

  3. Jon
    February 23, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Holy crap.

  4. Paul W Dennis
    February 24, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    I’m with Rick on this one.

    IIIrd Tyme out is a very talented group of musicians, but Russell Moore is, at best, an average bluegrass vocalist (by country standards he’s not even average.

    My enjoyment of the group is enhanced because at least his voice is lower pitched than that “high and whiney” sound favored by so many second-tier bluegrass groups .

  5. Donald
    February 24, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    I see Jon’s ‘holy crap’ and raise you a, ‘are you freakin’ daft?’ By country standards he’s not even average…I believe I have fallen down a hole in the ground; some opinions…are just wrong.

  6. Bruce
    February 25, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Don’t know if there is such a thing as an opinion being wrong as long as it applies to the person’s personal taste. If it appeals to someone personally, fine. If not, fine also.

  7. Jon
    February 25, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Good word, “daft,” especially with such laughable stuff as Russell’s “lower pitched” voice. And especially when Rick’s preferred Russell (Russell Johnson of the Grass Cats), also a fine singer, works in pretty much the same range as Russell Moore.

    Bruce, foolishness like “average vocalist” doesn’t speak to personal taste, and flatulence about “standards” doesn’t, either. Russell Moore is one of the most widely admired and respected singers in bluegrass, and there are plenty of singers – and a growing number of fans – in the country world who feel the same way that their bluegrass colleagues do. Whether you care for his singing or not, that’s just a fact.

  8. BRUCE
    February 25, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Jon,

    I will have to agree that I do not understand the criticism of Russell at times. I personally do not want to hear all the bluegrass singers sing like Del.

  9. Donald
    February 25, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks, Jon; I specialize in daftness.

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