Written by Glen Hensley
Author bio follows the commentary.
"DON'T BELIEVE SKAGGS FAMILY RECORDS."
On Cherryholmes III: Don't Believe, the remarkable family band continues the trademark artistry that marked their first two Skaggs Family releases, while simultaneously extending into musical and lyrical territory that will likely raise a few eyebrows.
The album opens with Cia's "I Can Only Love You So Much" which is a continuation of the trenchant theme of heartache that has marked much of her songwriting. The song's bracing intro with only Cia's voice and banjo provide a perfect setup for the song's underlying chill.
Sandy's gorgeous Celtic-flavored gospel follow-up, "The King As A Babe Comes Down", serves up a perfect counterpoint to Cia's romantic cesspool.
Other highlights include Molly Kate's sassy original "Goodbye", which showcased her newfound vocal maturity, and B.J.'s "Bleeding", which sports a hooky arrangement that belies the song's somber lyrical tone of romantic deception.
C-3 has all the band's trademark song dynamics and everyone makes stellar contributions. But it is Cia who raises the bar with three songs that, if not undeniable masterpieces, will certainly be talked about for some time to come.
On "Broken," her theme of heartache takes an even more wrenching turn. The dense baroque chamber pop arrangement creates the mood for the song's lyrical despair as the protagonist's lifelong search for her lost lover ends with the realization that "soon I will lie in the ground all alone."
On "This is My Son," she composes a mother's prayer for her only son who is going off to war. The beautiful arrangement is shaken up by Cia's pointed criticism toward "people who don't care that they're free at the cost of his life." The bold lyrical stroke is certain to divide listeners.
Cia competes the trifecta with the album's brilliant closer "Traveler," in which she deflates the aura of the drifter, long romanticized in songs past, by questioning his decision to leave behind the women who loves him for life on the road. With the band in full throttle lockstep behind her, Cia asks the journeyman "will your journey reach an end, or will you just be gone again?" "Traveler" could almost be considered an answer song to Dion's rock and roll classic "The Wanderer."
The musical journey for Cherryholmes continues and will likely not reach an end anytime soon. On Cherryholmes III, the band shows a complete willingness to take their own musical road. Stay tuned.
About the author: Glen Hensley (firstname.lastname@example.org) is one of the founding members of Bluegrass Anonymous (www.bluegrass-anonymous.org), the Louisville Bluegrass Music Association. Mr. Hensley is the former editor and current writer and advertising solicitor for the association newsletter, "the Pickin' Post."
Bluegrass Anonymous supports and promotes bluegrass music in Louisville as well as surrounding areas. BA's presence can be found at many area bluegrass shows and events.
Glen owns Lonesome Town Records (502.561.9357), specializing in bluegrass and old-time CDs, DVDs, and related books. He also does freelance ad design and his work has appeared in the Pickin' Post.
Talk back! Post your comment. Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. To post a comment, click on the "Comments" link below. To read comments associated with this post, follow the link under "Recent Comments" in the upper right-hand corner of this page.