By Chris Jones
Teri Ann McLean
|From the start, each song on
Chris Jones and the Night Drivers’ “Cloud of Dust” invites and intrigues.
This bluegrass release has the potential for several hit songs, including
the first track on the album, “The Love She Left Behind,” as well as title
track “Cloud of Dust,” and “One Door Away.” Each song on the album
features Chris Jones’ smooth baritone voice on lead vocals and guitar. All
these songs have stickiness… that quality that makes them get stuck in
your head and you find yourself singing them to yourself all day long.
In contrast to many bluegrass CDs that seem to just deal with life’s darker moments, “Cloud of Dust” is refreshing in that while it has the sad songs of betrayal we all yearn to hear such as “Cold Lonesome Night,” it is full of songs that inspire hope, from the title track to songs like “What You Do,” and the upbeat “One Door Away” and even a gospel number called “Come on Little Children” on which Sally Jones adds beautiful tenor harmonies.
Other noteworthy songs on the album include Track 5 which evokes shivers of a love turned cold likened to a “Cold Lonesome Night.” The mournful sound of the fiddle is provided by Aaron Till, and the track is further polished by Chris’ sweet guitar break. “Silent Goodbye” gives us the heartbreaking lyrics we look for on a good bluegrass album, the heartbreak cemented by the rich tones of the fiddle provided by Megan Lynch and sad harmonies by Darrin Vincent on tenor and Shawn Lane on beautiful high baritone that resonate deep within the listener.
Every once in a while, an artist is surprised by what grabs the listeners. In the days of 45 rpm’s, they are the songs that would have appeared on the “B side” of a hit record. The song that grabbed my attention beyond the songs with obvious hit potential was “What You Do.” With an intriguing mandolin intro with dobro fills, Chris sings from experience about what we do when life’s troubles come to call. Who among us hasn’t felt like they’ve been handed too much to bear? Somehow “you find strength you never knew – it’s what you do.” If you’ve ever experienced tragedy, this song will bring you to the heart of it, and then raise you from the ruins as it reminds you that although you don’t know how, you’ll be fine. “It’s what you do.”
Co-written by Chris Jones and Ned Luberecki, “Draw for 5” is the sole instrumental track on the album, the title of which is a clever double entendre – for the five strings on the banjo of course, but also for the little-known ice sport of curling. The song is dedicated to Butch Baldassari and previously appeared on a tribute album to Butch.
If slower love songs are your wont, Chris Jones and the Night Drivers deliver with the beautiful “I’d Rather Love You.” The CD ends with a cute parody song dedicated to bluegrass DJs, of which Chris Jones and Ned Luberecki are fine ones at the Bluegrass Junction on Sirius-XM.
Other guest appearances include Mike Compton who appears on mandolin on “Last Nail,” while Jeremy Garrett lends the sounds of his tenor vocals and fiddle playing on “Flat Creek” and “Last Nail” as well as the tenor vocals “What You Do.” Tim O’Brien sings tenor on “Pretty Saro,” a haunting number made even more so with the beautiful intonation on the fiddle by Tim. Irl Hees is a nice surprise on bass on “Cowboys Ain’t Supposed To Cry.”
This album instantly made Ned Luberecki one of my favorite banjo players as his playing on each number is suited perfectly to the song’s mood. His playing is understated and tasteful. Mark Stoffel moves me on the mandolin and Jon Weisberger keeps solid time on bass throughout. Mike Witcher’s dobro playing is superb and perfectly placed. Chris Jones did a fine job producing the album with his innate sense of arrangement.
This CD quickly became one of my favorites in my collection, one that if I had a turntable, it would be stuck in it. But thankfully this is 2009 and the album is on my iPod which means I can take it where ever I go. This album has a song for every season of life – love found, love lost, tragedy and strength. Get it at chrisjonesmusic.com. Your CD collection won’t be complete without it.
~Teri Ann McLean, Nov 2009
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Page Last Updated On 11/30/2009