BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
One thing’s for certain — this is not your granddad’s bluegrass anymore. Like Yonder Mountain String Band, the Steep Canyon Rangers, Town Mountain and scores of other bands that can claim a certain populist appeal, The Steeldrivers cater to the festival-faring masses, boasting a sound that’s old in terms of tradition but young enough to garner alternative enthusiasm.
The fact that these sessions were recorded in Muscle Shoals, a venerable landmark in itself, might imply it’s music of a stately stature, and yet, it’s hardly the subdued set-up that reasoning might suggest. The rugged banjo picking and sprightly fiddle playing that enliven such tracks as “Long Way Down,” “Drinkin’ Alone” and the astute instrumental “Hangin’ Around” underscore their upbeat intent, and even when the band goes gospel, as on the solemn “Brother John,” or turn their attention to a litany of modern ills, with the troubled “Too Much,” it’s hardly enough to dissuade the faithful. On the other hand, whenever they appear close to becoming unhinged, that rowdy, reckless approach is even further affirmed.
DOWNLOAD: “Long Way Down,” “Drinkin’ Alone,” “Too Much”