Keeping it Real
Jeannie Seely, a Grand Old Opry member since 1967, is joined by an all-acoustic band for her latest recording. "Miss Country Soul," as always, delivers honest and heartfelt vocals but the sound and feel is more in keeping with her country roots rather than Bluegrass.
Overall, this recording lacks the earthy intensity and drive that characterizes authentic traditional Bluegrass. But, make no mistake, Life's Highway is enjoyable and features some of country and bluegrass's finest musicians: Jessie McReynolds and Buck White on mandolin, Sharon and Cheryl White on harmony vocals and Rob Ickes on dobro. However, it is Josh Graves and his dobro that are consistently in the musical driver's seat. His work is particularly noteworthy on Dolly Parton's "The Good Old Days," and A.P. Carter's "I'll Be All Smiles Tonight." Glen Duncan's fiddle also enriches every track but no more so than on "It's A Heartache," and Bill Anderson's "Cry Myself To Sleep."
My favorite track is a grassy up-tempo Seely original, "Roarin' and Runnin'." The harmony lines are tight and pleasant, but it's Duncan's fiddle and Hugh Moore's banjo that drive this song. They are like two racehorses in a thrilling neck and neck homestretch duel as they trade solos. On a five-point scale of excellence, this project is a 3-plus.