New Bluegrass: The Earls of Leicester — ‘Rattle & Roar’

The Earls of Leicester — Rattle & Roar
Label: Rounder Records (to be released July 15, 2016)

It is one of the most highly-anticipated bluegrass albums of the year, and it does not disappoint.

The greatest way to pay tribute to what has come before isn’t necessarily to recreate. Rather, it is to develop. That is exactly what Dobro master Jerry Douglas and some of Nashville’s top pickers have done as they pay homage to one of the most influential acts in the history of bluegrass (Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, and The Foggy Mountain Boys) with the “supergroup” the Earls of Leicester. Their new album, Rattle & Roar features re-imagined versions of tracks originally performed by the bluegrass legends. To capture that all-important “live” quality, the album was recorded in one room, with all of the band members in a line, just as they would be onstage. This is what a good-time recording session sounds like… especially in the uptempo numbers, such as “The Girl I Love Don’t Pay Me No Mind,” “The Train That Carried My Girl From Town,” and “Will You Be Lonesome Too?”

In a press release, Jerry Douglas stated “I hope people who don’t know Flatt & Scruggs hear this and think it’s totally new music. Then, I hope they find out what we’re doing and go out and buy every Flatt & Scruggs record they can find.” I’d also recommend that everyone add The Earls of Leicester’s debut, self-titled album (from 2014) to their collection as well. Both albums are must-haves.

The Earls of Leicester are: Jerry Douglas (Dobro), Shawn Camp (Lead Vocals & Guitar), Barry Bales (Bass & Vocals), Charlie Cushman (Banjo & Guitar), Jeff White (Mandolin & Vocals) and Johnny Warren (Fiddle)… this group is as good as it gets in traditional bluegrass music these days (and that’s plenty good, by the way). They more than live up to the Flatt & Scruggs legacy, particularly Shawn Camp’s relaxed vocals. They are playing these songs they love with the kind of perfected, reckless abandon that the Flatt & Scruggs legacy deserves. Quite a tribute.

(If you’re in a Grammy Award pool in the future, count on this album to take the Best Bluegrass Grammy.)

Essential Downloads:  “The Train That Carried My Girl from Town,” “Why Did You Wander?” “Just Ain’t,” “I’m Working on a Road (To Glory Land),”

To preview or purchase the album on iTunes, click here.


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