Keep 'Em Coming

Bluegrass Melodies (Rounder Records)
Bobby Osborne

By Bob Mitchell

The release of Bluegrass Melodies is part of an exciting new journey for the 75-year-old native of Hyden, Ky., who enjoyed an incredible 50-year career with brother Sonny Osborne as the world-renowned Osborne Brothers.

This CD follows his successful debut solo release, Try a Little Kindness. He returns with 12 heady new tracks that find an experienced trendsetter still singing and picking with the same enthusiasm fans have appreciated for nearly six decades. I am not alone in my thinking. Co-producer and fiddle wizard Glen Duncan said, "One of the most influential artists of the 20th century is still clearly at the top of his game." Indeed he is.

An exceptional mix of soaring bluegrass covers and three Osborne originals also features three-time Grammy nominee and label mate Rhonda Vincent on an expressive rendition of Vince Gill's "Go Rest High On That Mountain."

Among the many other musical highlights are a spine tingling title track; Duncan's phenomenal bow work on "Music Makin' Man" and "Color Me Lonely;" Bobby's lead and tenor vocals on "Under A Lonesome Moon" and "What Kind Of Fool;" Osborne and Duncan's harmonies in a poignant "Are You Afraid to Speak Our Savior's Name;" a playful "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," and a bouncy "I Would Like To See You Again."

Osborne's band, Rocky Top X-Press, provides the perfect underpinning for the characteristic vitality in his voice. Members include his son Bobby Jr. on acoustic guitar, Dana Cupp on banjo, Matt Despain on Dobro and Daryl Mosley on bass.

Every cut is strong and each arrangement is imaginative. After repeated listening I wondered, "What's in the water? What did he have for breakfast? Where is his energy coming from?" To be honest, I have no idea. There is no evidence that Osborne plans to slow down and that's good news for bluegrass. Keep 'em coming Bobby. I can't wait for your third solo project. On a five-point scale of excellence this release merits a five.

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