Song for Greta (Rebel)
James Alan Shelton

By Bob Mitchell

Did you ever wonder about the sound of an angel's rustling wings? My guess is that it sounds a lot like the cross picking of James Alan Shelton. His latest project is simply heavenly, especially the title cut which is a lovely composition dedicated to his wife, Greta. The album also has moments that are restful like a stroll in the woods, such as a cover of Bob Will's classic, "Faded Love."

Shelton is joined by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, who sing out their hearts on the time-honored Carter Family tune, "Fifty Miles of Elbow Room." Blue Highway guitarist and vocalist extraordinaire Tim Stafford guests on an up tempo Shelton original, "North Fork of The Holston," the compelling "Scarborough Fair," and the ever popular "Shady Grove."

One of the traditional tracks, "Back Up and Push," contains a heavy dose of "get up and go" provided by the Clinch Mountain Boys: Steve Sparkman on banjo, James Price on fiddle and Ralph Stanley II on rhythm guitar. Other traditional cuts include "When You and I Were Young Maggie," (which evokes memories of the elder Stanley with its sublime guitar and banjo exchanges) "It Is Better Farther On," and a rousing closer, "Long Journey Home." "Journey Home" features Stanley with a crisp lead vocal and John Rigsby's remarkable tenor vocal.

This project is Shelton's first solo release for Rebel Records but, based on its quality, it certainly won't be his last. Latch onto a copy soon.