Getting Better All the Time

Promise To A Soldier (Chateau Music Group)
Honi Deaton and Dream

By Bob Mitchell

This is the third Deaton project I've reviewed and it is her best yet. Promise is an energetic and confident presentation of new and old material including five tracks she wrote: "River Of Tears," "All Alone," "It Amazes Me," "Glory Glory," "Here I Am Lord" and the title track. Additionally, she co-wrote "I'm Callin' Jesus" with Glen Garrett and "Am I Losing You" with Randy Glen. Not only does she know how to write a song but also she knows how to deliver it. Her tone is invariably heartfelt and her words are always insightful.

The title track, Deaton's powerful tribute to her grandfather who died in World War II, will touch many hearts and help untold numbers of families because $2 from the sale of every CD will be donated to "Operation Family Fund." The fund's mission is to provide for families of military personnel who have died or been severely disabled. (www.opreationfamilyfund.org)

The project also includes a soulful cover of Hank Locklin's "Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On," a hard driving cover of Patsy Montan's "Cowboy's Sweetheart" with outstanding yodeling and a bluesy cover of Patsy Cline's "Walking After Midnight" with some remarkable acoustic bass work from Honi.

Deaton's band is appropriately named - they are, indeed, a dream team. The banjo of Josh Brooks is consistently crisp and clean especially on "River Of Tears," and "Glory Glory." Joe Clark's mandolin chops are solid and inventive but no more so than on "All Alone." Deaton's husband, Jeff, makes a major contribution with solid bass playing, rhythm and lead guitar fills and harmony vocals. Greg Luck also provides some outstanding guitar work, especially in "All Alone."

Andy Ruff's resophonic guitar, however, is the instrument that works hardest and shines the brightest. Deaton allows Ruff the space to showcase an incredible talent. His work is exceptional. I especially enjoyed his work on "Cowboy's Sweetheart," "I'm Callin' Jesus," and "Here I Am Lord." Ruff, incidentally, grew up in Jeffersonville, Ind., just across the river from Louisville. Ruff started playing music at about age 9 and has played alongside a number of notable Bluegrass greats including Ralph Stanley and Jim and Jesse McReynolds.

Deaton and her band will be around for a long time, so remember the name. If you seek more, check out www.honideaton.com