High Praise for a Kentucky Boy

The Shadowlands (Mammoth Onyx Music)
Mark Melloan

By Larry Alexander

What a joy to get a surprise every once in a while. A friend said, "I think you will like this CD, try it." Usually when a friend makes that sort of suggestion you run the other way. Well, I am glad I didn't run. This is one of the best albums I have experienced in years. Elizabethtown singer-songwriter Mark Melloan's work here has many of the same qualities of Chris Thile's work with Nickel Creek. Bela Fleck plays banjo on this album with many other talented musicians. There is not a cut I haven't listened to six times and will continue to enjoy for a long time to come.

"Morgan Hunt's Mill" has both a haunting tune plus has excellent lyrics, which is characteristic of all the cuts on the album. "Courthouse Rock" is without a doubt my vote for best of CD. Perhaps it's because of all of my fond memories of Red River Gorge and my total disdain for war. Unfortunately, I am one of those who remember all too well the tragedy of Viet Nam.

"Hubert Atwell's Store" is a chronicle of the past. This cut reflects the entire mood of the album. When I listen to the CD I can almost imagine all of the wonderful drives that I have taken through rural Kentucky. The poetry of the lyrics is classic. The accompanying music is a perfect match. It is obvious that Mark is writing about personal experiences, as it would be impossible to infuse the lyrics with such soul without having walked the walk.

"When I Get Lost" reflects my feelings toward my soul mate-my wife. Somehow she has always been able to "take me higher" and saved "me from the city."

I loved the message of this album so much that I am going out to buy a copy for my sons. The messages are very personal for me. This gets my vote for one of the best Americana bluesy collections I have ever experienced.