Saravanan Sankaran — Back to Bassics

Juli Thanki | August 22nd, 2011

photoAs its puntastic title suggests, Back to Bassics is a collection of solid, no-frills bluegrass, something that’s not as effortless to make as it sounds. Saravanan “Sav” Sankaran, the boyishly-voiced bass player for The Dixie Bee-Liners, leads a sharp band—with Adam Steffey on mandolin and Ron Stewart pulling double duty on banjo and fiddle—through eleven tracks that include a pair of excellent Bill Monroe covers (hear a clip of “Old Dangerfield” in the video below).

With such a talented group of musicians, it’d be a sin to not show them off on a few instrumentals, the aforementioned “Old Dangerfield” being one of them. Steffey, in particular, shines on a sprightly version of “New Camptown Races.” Original material from other contemporary bluegrass songwriters like Zach Bevill (The Farewell Drifters), Andy Hall (Infamous Stringdusters) and Jon Weisberger (Chris Jones & The Night Drivers) makes up the bulk of the album, but the two Sav-penned songs are the record’s best, revealing a mature songwriting talent that we’ll hopefully get to hear more of on future albums. “Alleghenies” pays tribute to his rural Pennsylvania roots while “Miner’s Lament” is a moving ballad told from the perspective of a broken down Pennsylvania coal digger whose heart has turned “as cold as the hard anthracite” he mines.

Back to Bassics is a strong album, and the fact that it’s Sankaran’s first solo record makes it even more impressive. It’s not currently available for purchase online; but it’s definitely worth tracking down a copy at a Dixie Bee-Liners show or festival appearance.

3.5 Stars

Tagged In This Article

// // // // // // // // // //

Current Discussion

  • Jack: "I got turned off a not so new guy’s music after he started recording songs like “Get Drunk and Be …
  • A.B.: I think I understand why the eating disorder facility wants to be located there besides it being the former Cash …
  • Janice Brooks: Hopes somebody gets those memos about drinking songs. Meanwhile I'm feeling a lot of slots with Bluegrass.
  • Leeann: Great news about Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White's duet album! Absolutely appalling about the Keith Urban concert!! Both the rape and …
  • bob: I found the Billboard article about country music radio needing an alcohol intervention interesting. Songwriter Adam Wright is quoted as …
  • Matt: Definitely agree with C.M. about Maddie & Tae. Certainly not the tidal wave of change some claimed it is or …
  • Dave D.: Good stuff, as always. My copy of Producing Country arrived yesterday, and it looks to be as good as …
  • Scooter: I agree Holly Williams can do no wrong in my eyes. Such a good album and great to see live …
  • Carrie Mclaughlin: Your my Hero Mr. Jim Lauderdale!!! Come to Alaska Please? hehehehe
  • Jeremy Dylan: You should check it out Dave D. It's from the first (and strongest) season.

Recently Reviewed Albums

  • kelleymickwee
  • sandrarhodes
  • candi staton
  • sturgillsimpsonmetamodern
  • raypricebeautyis
  • rodneycrowelltarpapersky
  • rhondavincentonlyme
  • mandybgibson