Sonically heartfelt

Cumberland River Dream (Doobie Shea)
Dale Ann Bradley

By Bob Mitchell

This is a collection of songs about the conditions of the heart, and Dale Ann's sensitive interpretations are guaranteed to touch yours. In addition to her lilting vocals, the release also showcases her maturing songwriting abilities. She co-wrote five of the 12 tracks with her long-time friend and New Coon Creek Girl, Vicki Simmons. Two cuts are incredibly powerful. "Granny Cat" is based on a true story about Simmons' great great grandmother, who was able to gather the strength to leave a marriage filled with domestic violence, and through sheer determination establish a new life for herself and her son. Bradley's band is exceptional throughout the project but the way they drive this haunting, bluesy tune is great. "Beyond The Shadow of A Doubt" is a poignant tune about Simmons' mother's battle with cancer and was written to "bring comfort, strength and peace to folks who are going through a similar situation."

In addition to first-rate vocals, the listener gets first-rate musical support. Rob Ickes' dobro work is always admirable, but his effort on this release is the finest I have heard. His strength and innovation are a joy to the ear. Eddie Miller's performance on mandolin was particularly impressive. He knows how to jump on a solo and he knows how to lay back with perfect rhythm and fills. Dan Tyminski's guitar and harmony vocals are dynamite. Aubrey Haynie's fiddle is sweet and sure. Michael McLain's banjo is tasteful and fluid. And, finally, the bass line from Barry Bales is a solid foundation, but he is at his best on soulful "Piney Rose" and the hard driving gospel cut "Passing Thru" (penned by Johnny Cash and Randy Scruggs). In short, this a good release and should do well for Bradley.

In the last several years the recording industry has consistently improved its ability to capture the pure tones and colors of an un-amplified acoustic instrument. This release is outstanding. I felt like I was in the studio. A tip of my hat to the recording engineers and mixers.