Photo of Mountain Heart - Force Of Nature
Mountain Heart - Force Of Nature
Force of Nature (Skaggs Family Records)
Mountain Heart

By Bob Mitchell

As Jerry Reed said in one of his many hit songs, "When you're hot, you're hot." Mountain Heart is hot! Their first release, The Journey, was nominated as "Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year." Their second release, "No Other Way," was selected as the best album of the year by Bluegrass Now and garnered an IBMA nomination for "Instrumental Group of The Year." Now, one of Bluegrass's newest super groups has unleashed another monster recording containing thirteen mostly new tracks. From start to finish, this is an enthusiastic project with captivating vocals and amazing instrumental work.

Steve Gulley's lead vocals and steady guitar are usually at the forefront of each arrangement but each man makes a consistently strong contribution. My favorite Gulley piece is new cover for Lester Flatt's "The Old Hometown." The deep rich voice of Adam Steffy is featured on "Twister:Devil's Dance," a powerful cut about the devastation caused by a tornado. His enormous mandolin talent is also showcased throughout the entire recording. It is no wonder he was voted 2003 IBMA mandolin player of the year. Barry Abernathy's banjo playing is nothing short of spectacular and his technique is particularly astonishing in view of the fact that due to a birth defect, he has no fingers on his left. His work is consistently unbelievable, but especially on "#6 Barn Dance." Jim VanCleve's fiddle is always joy to hear and his bow work knocked me out on the intensely patriotic "A Memory Like Mine," and his original instrumental, "#6 Barn Dance." VanCleve also co-wrote "Born On The Wind," and "Another Day." The robust bass line from Jason Moore completes the band's lineup and I especially enjoyed the way he played on "Heart Like A Roadsign Head Like a Wheel." Guesting on this recording is Rob Ickes and his incredible dobro styling.

On a five point scale of excellence, this project is a 5

For more information check out www.mountainheart.com or www.skaggsfamilyrecords.com