Bobby OsborneBLUEGRASS AND BEYOND

Rounder Records
166106032

Given the title, you might think Bobby Osborne was going to go way out there. After all, he’s been going beyond traditional bluegrass since at least the mid’60s. If he has to mention it after all these years, there must be some wild stuff on this recording, right?

Well, not really. Two slow country tunes (“After The Fire Is Gone” and “You Can”) and a slow countryrock tune (the Eagles’ “Girl From Yesterday”) are about the limit. The other two songs of country origin, Jerry Reed’s “Let’s Sing Our Song” and Eddie Rabbitt’s ’70s country hit “Driving My Life Away,” are given uptempo and relatively straight bluegrass arrangements, but retain elements of country, swing, and pop. The Reed tune has a few more identity issues, seeming to shift moods as its struts along in its new bluegrass guise, but both are wellsuited to bluegrass treatment and therefore sound good.
There is much here that sounds good, especially Osborne’s vocals and the support of banjoist Dana Cupp, bassist Daryl Mosely, resonator guitarist Matt Despain and, in particular, fiddler Glen Duncan, who lets it fly several times to great effect. Among the highlights is “What Would You Give In Exchange For Your Soul,” given a split arrangement with Osborne and Marty Stuart for a couple of traditionalsounding verses, then Osborne and Connie Smith with a more country verse, closing in a trio with Osborne and doubletracked Duncan. A good word should also be said for the cover of Ira Louvin’s “Way Up On The Mountain” and for the gospel and social commentary in “A Wise Man’s Mind Will Change.”

I closed a previous review of an Osborne recording with, “You’ll smile and nod in agreement while listening to it.” The same holds true here. (Rounder Records, One Rounder Way, Burlington, MA, 01803 www.rounder.com.)BW