Artist: Earls of Leicester
Album: Rattle & Roar
Label: Rounder Records
Release Date: 07/15/2016
Where do you start with this remarkable release? Perhaps by praising it, confirming the band members, Jerry Douglas at the helm, and adding a dash of bluegrass candy to the bag.
A bluegrass supergroup, led by Dobro slide-wizard Jerry Douglas, the Earls of Leicester here set out to produce an album that is studio recorded but with a live, festival feel and more than a taste of early bluegrass magic capturing the dynamic sound and feel of two of the music’s pioneering greats, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. It almost goes without saying that they succeed marvellously with this stunning effort.
In truth, anyone would be hard-pushed to tell the difference between Flatt & Scruggs at their best and the new, Douglas-led offering. The 17 tracks include pitched-to-perfection takes on many of the elderly bluegrass statesmen’s classics including ” The Train That Carried My Girl From Town,” “Flint Hill Special” and “I’m Working On A Road (To Gloryland)”. So you know exactly where this album is going and what you’re actually getting, or likely to get, from it.
The band picked up a Grammy for their first self-titled outing in 2015 and although band-members have changed slightly in the past few years (Tim O’Brien doesn’t feature here, for example) the sheer quality remains securely anchored.
This is an album that not only successfully captures the sound and feel of early bluegrass but both emulates it perfectly while riding a tricky range by bringing it wonderfully back to life with a rattle and a roar.
– Iain Patience