Progressive Colorado bluegrass band The Railsplitters are making a welcome return to Spalding nearly two years after winning over a whole new fan base.
Due to arrive in the UK in two weeks time after an extensive tour round Australia, the five-piece band continues South Holland Centre’s popular Americana series that has seen music as diverse as Front Country, Hillfolk Noir, The Stray Birds and 3hattrio open eyes to the wealth of music from the USA.
The Railsplitters will be showcasing their third studio album, Jump In, which shows the band continuing to test the patience of what lead singer Lauren Stovall called “the bluegrass police”.
With intriguing harmonies, skillful musicianship and earthy vocals, Jump In represents more of a return to traditional bluegrass sounds, best represented by the opening three tracks.
Each in their own way, “Everyone She Meets”, “Lessons I’ve Learned” and the album’s title track all draw on unsurprising bluegrass territory for their inspiration, meaning broken relationships and failed romances figure prominently in the words.
But then the album takes a sudden turn with the instrumental “Durango River”, one of two non-vocal tracks on the album.
We respect the roots of bluegrass music but it’s fun to progress and we’re all pretty progressive thinkers and pretty liberal-minded as it isLauren Stovall, The Railsplitters
This fourth song seems to be the signal for The Railsplitters to change course, most notable with the Destiny’s Child-esque “To Do”, a subtle nod to the #MeToo women’s equality movement currently sweeping the US entertainment industry.
While most of the songs feature Stovall’s Mississippi-fused vocals, not all that dissimilar to Dolly Parton’s, two tracks towards the end of “Jump In” allow the men to take centre stage.
Banjo player Dusty Rider is at the forefront on “Lemon Lime” before new band member Joe D’Esposito brings both fiddle and voice to the surface on “Box of Five”.
The album also makes room for a second instrumental, “Citronella”, before ending with their own version of the poem “Forgiveness is the Cash” written by 14th century Persian poet Hafiz.
Martin Browne, of Spalding Folk Club, described The Railsplitters as full of “youthful energy and considerable skills, enhanced in good measure by clear vocals and sweet harmonies”.
In the words of The Eurythmics “who am I to disagree”?
Tickets for The Railsplitters in concert at South Holland Centre, Spalding, on Thursday, February 8, are available from the Box Office on 01775 764777.
Review by Winston Brown