New and Blue(grass)

Pickin' Praisin' and Singin' (Rural Rhythm)
Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Railroad

This One Is Two (Lonesome Day Records)

Ralph Stanley II

By Bob Mitchell

In the last several months, there have been numerous bluegrass releases. Cody Shuler and Ralph Stanley II have released two of the more outstanding projects.

The new Shuler album showcases the group recently voted 2007 Winner for "Bluegrass Gospel Song of the Year" by Singing News Magazine. The men deliver a powerful album of gospel classics. Their beautifully blended harmonies and tight picking has brought them a considerable amount of national attention over the past 10 years.

Sixteen tracks capture a rich heritage of past and present in a creative way that will appeal to fans of traditional bluegrass. The musicians keep true to the roots of the music in a fresh and powerful manner. Selections include such standards as "Where the Soul of Man Never Dies," "I Bowed on My Knees and Cried Holy," "How Beautiful Heaven Must Be," "The Old Rugged Cross" and many more. Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Railroad's new recording is right on track and full steam ahead.

Meanwhile, with two Grammy nominations and a Grammy award for his contributions to the album Lost in the Lonesome Pines, Stanley boasts a most moving and dramatic voice he polished and perfected during his fourteen years as lead singer for Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys.

This One Is Two(a reference to Stanley's nickname) showcases eleven songs by some of the best writers in the business, among them Lyle Lovett, Townes Van Zandt, Fred Eaglesmith, Tom T. Hall and Elton John. Stanley co-wrote two of the songs: "Honky Tonk Way," a tough, grimy, up-close look at a country singers life on the road, and "Lord Help Me Find The Way," a cry from the heart he composed when he was suddenly forced to stand in for his famous father.

Highlights include "Carter" (a mournful valedictory to Stanley's uncle, the late Carter Stanley of Stanley Brothers fame), "In Cold Shoulder" (the mind and heart of a lonely trucker who is snowbound and miles away from his lover), Tom T. Hall's high-velocity "Train Songs" and Elmer C. Burchett Jr.'s touching "Moms Are the Reason Wild Flowers Grow."

The project also features background vocals by former Shenandoah lead singer
Marty Raybon, Grammy-winning Jim Lauderdale, Darrin Vincent (of Dailey & Vincent), Dale Anne Bradley and Steve Gulley. The musicians are Tim Crouch (fiddle, guitar), Cody Kilby (guitar), Randy Kohrs (dobro), Harold Nixon (bass), Adam Steffey (mandolin) and Ron Stewart (banjo).

This One Is Twois Stanley's fifth solo album. For more information visit www.lonesomeday.com or www.ralphstanleyII.com. For more information on Pine Mountain Railroad, please visit: www.pinemountainrailroad.com or www.RuralRhythm.com.