Thursday, October 13, 2005

"One Step Ahead" - Rhonda Vincent

"One Step Ahead" is Rhonda Vincent's new album on Rounder Records which will be released on April 29,03.It is her 1st new release since "The Storm Still Rages" which was released two years ago, another album that I reviewed.
Rhonda and her backers have pulled out all the stops on this effort to deliver a very high quality CD, in many ways, time, studios and I'm sure in costs too. The production is a bit different on this new album, making it sound a bit more modern, perhaps a tince closer to an Alison Krauss type recording. The bass is definitely more out front in the mix, giving it more of a rhythmic beat in the sound. There is also a lot more time and tweaking done in the mastering process which is done by one of Nashville's best. The final product is a very highly polished, richly textured sound which shimmers. Also, there are many musicians involved, a different line up on almost each song. I guess one of the things that I like about this recording the most is the excellent acoustic guitar picking and the variety of pickers. Next, I'm going to give you a line up of Rhonda's back up help which will include most everybody involved in making this masterpiece.
First, I'll start off with the musician core. Fiddlers-Stuart Duncan, Ronnie Stewart, Luke Bulla, Molly Cherryholmes and Aubrey Haynie. Banjo pickers-Ronnie Stewart, Cody Kilby and Tom Adams. Acoustic guitars-Bryan Sutton, Aubrey Haynie, Cody Kilby and Darrin Vincent. Mandolin pickers-Aubrey Haynie, Cody Kilby, Rhonda Vincent and Sam Bush. Acoustic Bass-Darrin Vincent plays all tracks except one which was played by David Smith. Pedalbro-Mike Johnson and finally Wallet Box-Aaron Minick. Next I'm going to give the basics of the recording process.
The album is produced by Darrin Vincent and Rhonda Vincent. Original tracks recorded at Sound Control in Nashville. Engineer is Bill Vorndick. Additional recording done at Mountainside Audio Labs, Nashville and Watershed Studio, Nashville. Album mixed by Bill Vorndick. The album was mastered by Hank Williams of Master Mix, one of Nashville's best mastering engineers. When I 1st listened to the CD before I got the liner notes, I was thinking that it might have been mastered by Doug Sax, one of the best in the country( Alison Krauss, Kelly Willis). So, you see, lots of time and work were put into this project to give you this excellent sounding CD, approximately 35 minutes running time, but it seems a lot quicker than that. Now to the music.
There are a total of twelve cuts including a new Martha White promo at the end. I'm going to give the lowdown on my 5 favorite songs.
1."Missouri Moon"-by Jennifer Sutton-(my personal favorite) This song reminds me very much of an Alison Krauss ballad especially with the use of the pedalbro on this song, which basically sounds like a dobro. It has a very beautiful moving, haunting melody which Rhonda just sings so beautifully, this song really blows me away. The fiddle sounds like shedding tears.
2."Kentucky Borderline"-Rhonda co-wrote-This is the opener, it is a great upbeat bluegrass song, great vocals, awesome guitar break, real nice fiddle and fiddle break. I must mention too that the background vocalists are awesome on this album, I did not mention their names in the credits that I gave.
3."One Step Ahead Of The Blues"-Rhonda co-wrote-Great bluesy, bluegrass tune, I love the lyrics, upbeat.
4."Caught In The Crossfire"-Rhonda co-wrote-very cerebral bluegrass ballad, song about being from a broken family and the heartaches caused by this, another great guitar break
5."Ridin'The Redline"-Rhonda co-wrote-great upbeat bluegrass, more awesome guitar and mandolin pickin', great banjo break, this is a trucker song.
OK, I can't tell you everything, but also I really enjoyed "Fisher's Of Men", an acappella song reminiscent of "Let's Go Down To The River To Pray" from "Oh, Brother" and "Walkin' My Lord Up Calvary's Hill", another beautiful gospel tune. There is also a neat instrumental with an Irish flair called "Frankie Bell", which I find quite nice.
In closing, I just want to say how much that I enjoyed reviewing this CD and I think that it is a recording that could take Rhonda to a new height of popularity.
Go visit Rhonda at:

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