Experiments in country sending ‘bluegrass police’ into uproar

The Railsplitters are Leslie Ziegler, Dusty Rider, Lauren Stovall, Pete Sharpe and Christine King.  Photo by Emily Sierra.
The Railsplitters are Leslie Ziegler, Dusty Rider, Lauren Stovall, Pete Sharpe and Christine King. Photo by Emily Sierra.
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ALBUM REVIEW: The Faster It Goes by The Railsplitters, Mighty Fine Productions, available from Amazon, iTunes and CDBaby

Everything about The Railsplitters’ second (or sophomore as they say in the USA) album reeks of rebellion, defiance and insurrection.

The Railsplitters' latest album, The Faster It Goes.

The Railsplitters' latest album, The Faster It Goes.

For a start, The Faster It Goes isn’t even the title of one of the songs, instead taken from a line in the album’s opening track, Tilt-a-Whirl (the American term for the waltzer fairground ride).

The following ten tracks all depart from the orthoodox bluegrass sound as well, fusing Labi Siffre’s It Must Be Love (It’s a Little Late) with ELO’s Mr Blue Sky (Salt Salt Sea) and Munjo Jerry’s In The Summertime (Seasons).

The Railsplitters also pay homage to rock and roll with Tell Me on which the band’s lead vocalist Lauren Stovall sounds more like Olivia Newton-John when she sang Hopelessly Devoted to You.

But just before the “bluegrass police”, The Railsplitters’ name for people committed to protecting traditional-sounding bluegrass, file charges against the Colorado-based quintet, Dusty Rider delivers a bonus track right at the end, Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes.

Sometimes, revolution can be very good for you.

Before their show in Spalding, Lauren said: “In the (United) States, there is what we call the Bluegrass Police who are the ones that are sticklers for the traditional sound.

“We really love the traditional sound of bluegrass and we all have been extremely influenced by that.

“But we do come from different backgrounds and we all grew up listening to different types of music.

“So it’s sort of fun to let the music take you where it’s going to take you and not pushing against it so far back as to not let the music do its thing.

“For the most part, we’ve had a really good response from the crowd but every once in a while we have somebody in the crowd who doesn’t really appreciate what we’re doing.

“Our theory is to respect the roots of bluegrass music but it’s fun to progress and we’re all pretty progressive thinkers.

“It’s fun to see the next generation of the music and there’s a lot of different bands that are doing that, all doing different version of it.

“So it’s cool to be heading in that direction as well because it keeps it interesting for us.”

The standout tracks on The Faster It Goes are You on which Lauren Stovall becomes Dolly Parton for five minutes and the genre-breaking Planted on the Ground.

This was the track, along with My World on the band’s 2013 debut album called The Railsplitters, that officially marked the quintet’s divorce from the “bluegrass police”.

Lauren said: “We had no real expectations about our UK tour, except that we’ll always know that we’re going to some great places.

“It’s really nice that we can just show up and explore, without having to do the research or make plans.

“It’s really cool to be coming to these places with no expectations, but just an open mind because we’re never disappointed.”

The Railsplitters, The Faster It Goes by Paul Woodgate

The Railsplitters by John Curtis Goad

Review and interview by Winston Brown