For fans who like their bluegrass a bit rough around the edges, the Nashville bluegrass scene has gotten a bad rap – too polished, not enough soul, overproduced, or just a bit too slick to be honest music. Well, if One More For the Road, the latest solo release from mandolin maestro Adam Steffey, is any indication of what Nashville grass is all about, I’ll take my bluegrass slicker than goose poop on a linoleum floor.
Steffey, who has established himself as one of the premier mandolin players on the bluegrass scene during stints with the Lonesome River Band, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Mountain Heart, and Dan Tyminski Band, is joined by some of his closest friends – all of whom are contemporary bluegrass icons – on this collection of twelve stellar tracks. Tyminski, Krauss, and Union Station’s Barry Bales and Ron Block appear, as do fiddler extraordinaire Stuart Duncan, dobro player Randy Kohrs, and guitarists Bryan Sutton and Clay Hess, among others.
With a supporting cast of such pedigree, I knew the picking on this record would be stratospheric. I was not disappointed. The disc’s four instrumentals – "Deep Rough," "Durang’s Hornpipe," "Barnyard Playboy"and "Half Past Four" – are bluegrass roller coasters. With Tyminski singing lead, Steffey and mates blow the doors off with their take on the traditional "Let Me Fall" – Ron Stewart and Steffey dare you to keep up with their blazing banjo and mandolin work. Kraus provides her signature vocals on "Warm Kentucky Sunshine," and, though outside his comfort zone, Steffey’s baritone more than adequately takes the lead on "A Broken Heart Keep’s Beatin’," "What Gives You the Right," and the disc’s title track.
Steffey has surrounded himself with the best of the best to make One More For the Road. Let’s face it – these guys are so good, they can’t help being slick, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
One More For The Road is out now on Sugar Hill Records.