An Up-and-Coming Talent Keeps Coming

Keeper of the Flame (Lendel Records)
Randy Waller & The Country Gentlemen

By Bob Mitchell

This is the first release from Waller and the Gents since he replaced his legendary father following Charlie Waller's untimely death. The younger Waller, imbued with forty-seven years of musical tradition, reformed the band. The result is a wonderful mix of old and new songs with a sound reminiscent of the '50s, '60s and '70s.

Waller's previous self-titled release was reviewed in January 2005. In part, it said, "Waller's song writing skills are evident but none more moving and powerful than, `Daddy's Old Guitar, (Randy's memories and his pledge to be `keeper of the sacred flame.') ... Waller knows how sing a song whether it's his or someone else's... and his bluegrass roots are evident." Later that year Randy earned a Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music In America nomination as male vocalist and entertainer of the year and song of the year for "Daddy's Old Guitar."

This release is even stronger than his debut album and is also destined for industry recognition. Waller's deep, rich voice captures the emotion of lyrics and melody. His guitar work is the driving force behind each track and nothing short of phenomenal especially on original songs "Blue Ridge"(an instrumental), "Shotgun Rider" (a straight-ahead bluegrass number that confirms his intention to keep his father's sound alive),

and "Hearts and Flowers" (a beautiful love song). His arrangements are spirited and fresh. Daddy would be proud!

Other highlights include the lonesome-sounding "Old Railroad Track;" the tender "Golden Wedding Bands;" another powerful tribute to his father in "One More Voice Singing In Heaven Tonight," and a whimsical instrumental cover of Paul Simon's "Mrs. Robinson."

The Gents are comprised of Mark Delaney on banjo and harmony vocals, Gary Creed on bass and bass vocals, the incomparable Rickie Simpkins on fiddle, David Kirk on mandolin and harmony vocals and the amazing Mike Auldridge on resophonic guitar.

Waller has a bright future and I look forward to his next release. On a five-point scale of excellence, this release is a five.

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