Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out

Rural Rhythm Records

When a band as distinguished as IIIrd Tyme Out changes its name, you can’t help but wonder if anything else has changed as well. Original members Russell Moore (guitar, vocals), Steve Dilling (banjo, vocals), and Wayne Benson (mandolin, mandola, vocals) form a strong core unit. Justen Haynes (fiddle, vocals) is a relative newcomer, as is Edgar Loudermilk, who replaces Ray Deaton on upright bass and vocals.

Moore remains very much the frontman, turning in great lead vocals on ten of the album’s twelve tracks. He’s clearly enjoying himself on faster, grassier fare such as “Little John, I Am,” “Knee Deep In The Blues,” “Big City Blues,” and the radiofriendly “Carolina’s Arms.” Even “Hard Rock Mountain Prison (Till I Die),” which employs just about every bluegrass cliché, sounds great with Moore tearing through it over Dilling’s grinding banjo.

Moore is even more at home on ballads such as the sentimental “Me And Dad,” the bittersweet “The Last Greyhound” and “Prayer For Peace,” an update to Jim & Jesse’s “Weapon Of Prayer.” The best song here is Becky Buller’s “My Angeline,” a kind of flip side to IIIrd Tyme Out’s hit “John & Mary” that begins with Benson on mandola, but ends with love lost rather than celebrated.

Instrumentally, the band is as strong (perhaps even stronger) as ever, evidenced by their playing on each vocal track and the Celtictinged, Monroestyle Benson composition “Boiling Springs.”

One thing that does seem to have changed about the group is the amount of grand, gripping vocal arrangements they’re known for, but, luckily, we get to hear on “The Eastern Gate,” a fine gospel number that closes a good album. (Rural Rhythm Records, P.O. Box 660040, Dept. D, Arcadia, CA 91066, AKH