It’s been said that right now is a really great time to be a fan of homegrown American music, and when taking a look at the current state of the nation’s underground beat, this is a hard argument to disagree with. Bluegrass acts like Carolina Blue have had an exceptionally busy year in 2020, with a new record debuting in the form of Take Me Back that has had critics and fans the same feeling very excited about the future of this genre relative to that which country music has enjoyed for so many decades, and having recently listened to the album in its entirety myself, I have to agree with the common narrative.
It isn’t just the virtuosic faceting of songs like “Black Knob Breakdown,” the rather exotic “Lost and Lonely,” folk-influenced “Take Me to the Mountains,” the cover of “Country Lovin’ Son of a Gun” or the playful gallop of “Raining in Roanoke” that makes Take Me Back such an enticing listen, but the substance of the harmonies as one might interpret them at face-value. There’s no place for posing in this LP’s tracklist; only celebrating a rich and vibrant American history with a modern twist on melodic execution that could turn anyone into a bluegrass fanatic.
Even had Carolina Blue wanted to incorporate a lot of useless synthetics into the master mix of tracks like “I’m Gonna Wait on Jesus” or “Grown Cold,” it wouldn’t have mattered as there was inevitably no space in the big picture to fit it in. There’s too much of an organic melodicism present in every one of these songs for the band to focus on exploiting anything other than the natural charms they’ve been given in this performance. The vocal is always a centerpiece of any given track here, with “Blue Grass,” “March Around Jericho” and “Number 73987” featuring some of the most prominent singing in the LP, and while this isn’t always true of bluegrass material, it works within this context just fine.
Click here for more music from Carolina Blue: ffm.to/cb-takemeback Artist: Carolina Blue Song: Too Wet To Plow Album: Take Me Back Label: Billy Blue …
I haven’t heard the kind of spunk this group has got coming out of anything Nashville has crafted for a country music audience for the majority of this year, and between their attitude and the aesthetics of the songwriting/material selection in Take Me Back, I’d say this album is as suitable for the country listener as it is the bluegrass addict.
I wasn’t very familiar with the complete discography of Carolina Blue before getting turned on to their latest work through the release of Take Me Back this fall, but if this is a good representation of who they are and what they want to be known for as players, it won’t be the last album they issue that makes it onto my private shelf at home. This is a band that doesn’t just play bluegrass – they love the smallest of elements making this genre everything it is and always shall be in 2020, and for some of us, that makes their effort here an all-around imperative listen.