A country singer who left the road to be with family in 2000, Mellons promises on this album “bluegrass and acoustic country music with a fresh contemporary flavor.” Not unlike a recent album by fellow country music refuge Joe Diffie, he delivers just that with the aid of his booming honky tonk voice and a stellar squad of session players and guest harmonizers.
That list includes Darrin Vincent (bass, vocals), Cody Kilby (guitar), Adam Steffey (mandolin), Joe Caverlee (fiddle), Ron Stewart (banjo) and Rob Ickes (resonator guitar), along with singers Vince Gill, Larry Cordle, Dale Ann Bradley, Steve Gulley and Sonya Isaacs.
The diversity of material and Mellons’ ability to get it across with passion is impressive, including the country weepers “Blue Wind,” “I’m Just A House” and “A Cold One Can’t Cure”; bluegrass rompers “Memory Remover,” “Tennessee Ridge Runner,” and “Take It Like A Man”; and classics like Larry Sparks’ “Don’t Neglect The Rose” and Jimmy Martin’s “Tennessee.”
“Still They Call Me Love” and “Still Brand New” definitely fall into the “acoustic country” side of the ledger, departing from the bluegrass edge and lyrical simplicity of the rest of the record, but the combination of Mellons’ voice with Isaacs’ make them work. The bluesy “King Of Kings” wraps things up with gospel style, rounding out a wellrounded effort from a singer whose bluegrass chops are sharp. (Jukebox Junkie Ent., 313 Jacksonian Dr., Hermitage, TN 37076, www.kenmellons.net.) AKH