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Darin & Brooke Aldridge

Flying – 2013 (Organic/Mountain Home)

Reviewed by Greg Yost

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CDs by Darin & Brooke Aldridge

In the liner notes of "Flying," the album from the North Carolina-based husband and wife duo of Brooke and Darin Aldridge, Americana luminary Jim Lauderdale points out that, "Darin and Brooke bring tradition to today and today to tradition." It is both an astute observation and the key to why "Flying" succeeds as a collection of songs.

The "today" side of the equation, which is most visible in arrangements that incorporate and emphasize drums and through the use of catchy and towering melodies that would make a pop or country diva envious, carries the album and makes it a bluegrass release with acres of mainstream crossover potential.

The traditional is still present in songs like "Higher Than My Heart," "To The Moon And Back" and the dark, harrowing and deadly tale of "Laurie Stevens," but the songs placing a greater emphasis on pop elements ultimately steal the show.

Drums play a key role in developing the album's sound, both in their use and how they are positioned in the mix. The Aldridges produced this set and seemingly made a conscious effort to push the drums forward while placing traditional instruments further back than they appear in most bluegrass recordings. Although drums aren't used on every track, their presence results in songs that skew away from the traditional, and that could easily garner a mainstream audience.

The peppy, opening "Maybe Just A Little" joins "Little Bit Of Wonderful," with its hand percussion and twin-vocals chorus, and "I Gotta Have Butterflies" as the three standout tracks. The latter of the three, penned by Bill Whyte and Lisa Shaffer, gorgeously explains the rare feelings that signal new love is in the air while providing the perfect pedestal upon which to display Brooke's stunning vocals. This is an exceptional pop song in any genre.

"Flying" is an appropriate name for the Aldridges' latest effort - the duo and these songs really soar.