Once again displaying the vocal magic that has earned them the IBMA's (International Bluegrass Music Association) "Vocal Group of the Year" award for the past six years, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver release More Behind the Picture Than the Wall for Rounder Records.
Out today, More Behind the Picture... is the secular follow-up to the group's critically-acclaimed You Gotta Dig A Little Deeper (Rounder Records, 2005), and shows - once again - that while these boys have no peers when it comes to raising the roof on Sundays, they've also got the muscle, finesse and know-how to take care of and elevate the more day-to-day concerns that fill the long week between Sabbaths.
Lawson, whose near-mythic path includes career-shaping stints with such legends as Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys, J.D. Crowe & the Kentucky Mountain Boys and - most notably - ten sterling albums in eight years with the Country Gentlemen, formed Quicksilver in 1979.
The group's unfailing instrumental prowess and pristine harmonies have merged fireball bluegrass, classic country and jubilee gospel for almost 30 years. Lawson & Quicksilver have long since cemented their place among bluegrass's enduring elite.
In September of 2006 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Lawson was presented with a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship award (which recognizes artistic excellence in cultural authenticity and contributions to one's field), joining an extremely select group of bluegrass artists - Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley and Jerry Douglas - who have also been honored.
As with previous albums, More Behind the Picture Than the Wall shows off Quicksilver's dependable balance between sweet, in-the-tradition originals and exemplary covers that seem tailor-made for the group's exquisite vocal interplay - and for the otherworldly high-lonesome sound of principal lead singer Jamie Dailey in particular.
Lawson and Dailey share writing credits on three of the album's tunes - the kinetic, early-DL&Q styled "Mississippi River Let Your Water Flow," the buoyant, self-explanatory "Just Lovin' You" and the vintage, in-the-tradition chestnut "When The Blues Are Movin' In" - and Lawson's nimble digits whittled a brand-new instrumental showpiece for the band (the sparkling "Tulsa Turn-A-Round") on his mandolin.
Lawson contributes a memorable pair of lead vocals, tenderly exploring the wrenching heartaches that a father/son relationship can foster, on Harley Allen's "The Phone Call," and bringing a kind of spiritual mystery to the Buddy Cannon/Bill Anderson/Don Miller penned title track.
The opening version of Connie Leigh's "Sadie's Got Her New Dress On" is every bit as fresh, bright and frolicsome as the title suggests. The group's three-part harmony on Leon Payne's thought-provoking "The Selfishness of Man" is as delicate and finely-tuned as any you're likely to hear anywhere, and Lawson and Dailey close the disc with not one, but TWO versions of Dixie and Tom T. Hall's haunting, old-timey "Can You Hear Me Now" - the second version gets a roll-back-the-clock, 'retro 1938' sonic treatment that's guaranteed to raise goosebumps on anyone with fond memories of vintage AM radio days.
Expert, sublime and illuminated throughout by a palpable inner-glow, More Behind the Picture... is almost cinematic in its vivid evocations of the unadorned, rustic life - NEVER as simple nor easy as it seems outwardly, but all the more rewarding for the hard work, passion and dedication that were brought to bear to make it all happen.