Pathway - Somewhere Tonight

Pathway - Somewhere Tonight

Mountain Roads Recordings
MRR1005

More than the solid instrumental skills displayed throughout, and more than the fine songwriting that fills 11 of the 15 tracks, Pathway succeeds best on their singing. They can play—no doubt about it. Just listen to their cover of the instrumental standard “Soldier’s Joy” or the gentle setting they create for Tommy Hill’s slow, traditional country weeper, “You’re Looking For An Angel.” Or listen to the melodic sense they bring to the classic “One Tear” or to Tom T. and Dixie Hall’s “They Don’t Make Girls Like Ruby Anymore.”

They can also write—no doubt about that either. Each of their songs, among them “What Must I Do,” “Somewhere Tonight,” and “Pathway,” show a thorough understanding of song construction and good ears for a turn of phrase.

It is, however, their singing that most catches one’s attention. Four of the bandmembers—Casey Byrd (resonator guitar), Justin Freeman (guitar), Mark Freeman (banjo), and Scott Freeman (fiddle)—have good lead voices. Which one leads which song, the liner notes don’t say. I was most impressed by whoever sings “What Must I Do.” His voice is the most resonant and the richest in timbre, though the other three are not far off. In harmony, which all share, including the remaining two members—Mitchell Freeman (bass) and Jake Long (mandolin)—their blend is seemless and very smooth.

Such good leads and tight blends are especially important for a band that emphasizes gospel music as much as Pathway does. Eight of their fifteen tracks are of that genre and all are original and all are good. Of those eight, “Pathway” with its velvet lilt, and “Somewhere Tonight,” with its energy and sense of mission rise above the rest.

This is this Mt. Airy, N.C., band’s debut for the Mountain Roads label and makes a strong promise about its future. (Mountain Roads Recordings, 3192 Hwy. 421, Bristol TN 37620, www.mountainroadsrecordings.com.) BW