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James Alan Shelton

Walking Down the Line – 2007 (Sheltone)

Reviewed by Dr. Bobby Jones

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CDs by James Alan Shelton

James Alan Shelton's latest is predominately one of traditional flatpicking, not surprising given his long standing gig as the guitarist for Ralph Stanley.

Shelton opens with a ripping version of "Soldier's Joy," and does so with precision, sticking close to the melody of the tune. He also mixes up the pace with slow tunes and some modern acoustic sounds.

Adam Steffy adds a progressive but still restrained touch on the mandolin. Steve Sparkman provides the piercing Stanley-ish archtop banjo breaks and back-up, and Dewey Brown contributes the right lines for the fiddle tunes.

Several tunes are more obscure, such as "Stephen," which has has the feel of a Civil War banjo tune. Shelton also draws on influences as diverse as Roger Miller and the Carter Family, making this a quite eclectic recording for a touring bluegrasser.

The majority of the recording is instrumental, but there are a few vocals, and they are of excellent quality, and with nice harmony work.

Some of the tunes have been done many times before, but still are well rendered. So as not to let you forget his versatility, Shelton closes with "Sounds Of Silence" from Simon and Garfunkel. Recommended for flatpick guitar fans who prefer the melody as opposed to excessively technical pyrotechnics.