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