Twenty-seven Strings and a Cloud of Dust

Back To The MAC (Rounder)

IIIrd Tyme Out

By Bob Mitchell

When I listen to IIIrd Tyme Out, I know why I have loved bluegrass music for fifty years. This is a group with lots of drive, and the ability to produce a sound that can easily be recognized but not so easily defined. Their arrangements are tight, and the vocals are distinctive. It is amazing what they can do with 27 strings on five instruments. No wonder they have been named the IBMA vocal group of the year for seven years. This project is a brilliant showcase for exceptional musicianship and it brings some old favorites into the 21st century. Back To The MAC is a selection of songs guaranteed to satisfy even the most discriminating bluegrass palette.

Russell Moore's voice was incredible years ago when he was with Doyle Lawson, but in the years since then, he has matured into one of the best lead singers in the business. His powerful and commanding tones dominate the recording but several tracks reach the extraordinary, particularly "Come Back To Me In My Dreams," "Medals For Mothers," "Please Search Your Heart" and "Drifting Too Far From The Shore."

Wayne Benson's mandolin is stellar, especially on a swinging, lighthearted rendition of "East Tennessee Blues." This track sounds like anything but the blues. It is happy and snappy. If the blues felt like this song sounds, there would be no need for Prozac.

Ray Deaton's bass fiddle and bass vocals are at their peak. What a set of pipes! You simply will not hear a better bass vocal than "Drifting Too Far From The Shore." Smooth and polished, Mike Hartgrove's provides the perfect fiddle fills and solos. "Lost John" has been a perennial favorite but this old workhorse has never sounded better. Steve Dilling's banjo, guitar and vocal work are equally strong. Earl Scruggs must sit at home and smile every time he hears that banjo ring and roll. He fills this group's gas tank with plenty of get-up-and-go, especially on a new cover for Molly O'Day's classic, "When My Time Come To Go."

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