Deanie Richardson, with an impressive studio and stage resume - long of Patty Loveless' touring group, most recently with Bob Seger, as well as The Likely Culprits and Sister Sadie - releases one of the stellar fiddle-based albums of 2019.
Richardson has proven herself equally adept within bluegrass and country fields, and within "Love Hard Work Hard Play Hard," she casts wide for music to showcase her talents.
"Black and White Rag," "Soppin' the Gravy" and "St. Anne's Reel" provide the traditional basis for this fiddle-rich collection, lively presentations of each highlighting a breadth of fiddle approaches. Bill Monroe's "Kentucky Waltz" is interpreted with gentle care, with Brandon Bostic (guitar) and Austin Ward (bass) - who appear throughout - and Casey Campbell (mandolin) doing the lovely melody justice.
A Celtic interlude is provided mid-set, an homage to Richardson's time touring with The Chieftains. Featuring cracking playing, singing (Alyth McCormack), and dancing (Cara Butler), the medley of tunes neatly segues into "Lost Indian," a number featuring clogging from Richardson's brother, Bob.
Having played professionally for more than three decades, Richardson has some fine vocalists within her sphere and calls on three familiar names to spark the country side of the album. Loveless and Richardson duet on "Jack of Diamonds," with every bit of mountain ache Loveless can muster providing emotion to the raw, bluesy melody. Nothing was held in reserve for the next take!
Ronnie Bowman takes the lead on "Stoney Mae," a Richardson co-write with Bill Tennyson. Mountain-soul through-and-through, this song is powerful. Richardson also composed "Chicken in the House," a playful fiddle and banjo (from Scott Vestal) tune, and "Meadow Dancing," a piece featuring the clawhammer-style banjo of Richardson's Grand Ole Opry compatriot Mike Snider.
Another vocal highlight is Dale Ann Bradley's appearance on an old country song, "Tears Will Be the Chaser for Your Wine." From the classic-sounding fiddle kick-off to Steve Hinson's pedal steel, the performance is three minutes of country perfection.
Unexpectedly, the album concludes with a vocal from a singer unknown to most. Bostic duets - and does so very well - but "East Virginia Blues" belongs to Amanda McKenney, the mother of one of Richardson's fiddle students. An apt coda to an album that has a 'home hewn' feel from start to finish.
"Love Hard Work Hard Play Hard," Richardson's motto and a truly dynamic album.