"Brothers of the Highway" is the sixth album from a band that has remained consistent throughout its career, both in terms of quality and lineup. The group has won all sorts of awards, and the pedigree of both Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent is unequivocal, coming from careers with Doyle Lawson and Ricky Skaggs' bands, respectively.
They've gotten lots of attention, to be sure, and rightfully so: their work has been impeccable since they began, and that goes for their releases as well as their stage shows. I resisted, perhaps finding the outfit a bit slick, but when I saw them live, I was convinced. They are an extremely polished, entertaining group, and the harmony singing of Daily and Vincent is peerless.
It's been a while since they released a standard collection. Their last two albums were a tribute to the Statler Brothers and a collection of gospel tunes. Both required them to keep things reined in a bit, letting the material dictate much of the shots. Those are impeccable albums, but if you're not as much a fan of the Statler Brothers material as D&V seem to be, or if you'd like something a bit varied, both left a desire for something just a bit, well, more.
And that's this CD, "Brothers of the Highway." Vincent has said that they felt it was time to make an album that was just a straight-up bluegrass release, one that sat very close to the core tradition of the music. But it wasn't just about bluegrass; it was also about the stories that the music tells. Says Vincent, "We wanted to make an album about the joys of a simple way of life and tell stories through descriptive lyrics about how to write a personal essay friends, family, and love."
As such, the album is a delight from start to finish. It begins with a bang, the up-tempo "Steel Drivin' Man," though the material rises and dips as you go, including a stunning vocal entry to the Louvins' "When I Stop Dreaming." There are some standouts on a first listen, including a gorgeous arrangement of Skaggs' "Hills of Caroline" and the title track, "Brothers of the Highway," both of which deliver some spine-tingling moments. The song "Wouldn't It Be Wonderful" is a rousing group number.
The musicianship is stunning, and includes some of the best players out there, such as Bryan Sutton, Mike Compton and Andy Leftwich -- names that you can't say without sigh. They are so good, and the arrangements so clean and beautiful, matched by a level of production that is just as easy to coo over.
Frankly, I love this CD. And while Dailey & Vincent have five other releases out there that are so strong, I'd venture to say that this is the best, and one that will bring an even larger listenership to the band.