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Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers

The Story We Tell – 2017 (Rebel)

Reviewed by Devin Adams

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CDs by Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers

Joe Mullins makes it sound easy, and when surrounded by extraordinary talent like the Radio Ramblers, it sounds even easier. Throw in songs written by Larry Cordle, Ronnie Bowman and Jerry Salley, and "The Story We Tell" is sure to be a great one.

The release is the follow-up to Mullins' award winning gospel album, "Sacred Memories," but this time the story is a bit different. The lone gospel number "When God's In It," is from the pen of Bowman and Salley and showcases signature harmonies behind Duane Sparks' instantly identifiable voice. Sparks also shines on "Songs That Will Get 'Em," a sentimental tune about the connection felt between music and real life as well as "If I'd Have Wrote That Song," written by Cordle and Larry Snell, a song about ways life could be different.

Sparks' voice is not alone. Mandolin picker Mike Terry gets plenty of opportunity on the Mel Tillis/Merle Haggard tune, "I Could Have Gone Right" and "In the Short Rows," a tune of encouragement to finish the job, when the end is in sight. Mullins' takes the lead to open the recording, showcasing his distinctive tenor voice with "Long Gone Out West Blues" as well as "Neighbors," a tribute to all the kind people we meet throughout our lives.

Jason Barie takes his turn to burn up the fiddle on "The Fiddle Man's Delight," allowing him a chance to show off and even sample a bit of "Old Joe Clark." Barie also contributes a touch of percussion here and there complimenting Randy Barnes' on the low notes.

Mullins has long surrounded himself with the best of the best in bluegrass, a habit he continues to embrace. The combination of unique voices, masterful musicianship and top-notch songwriters makes "The Story We Tell" one to remember from Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers.