Ralph Stanley II

Stanley Blues – 2002 (Rebel)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

CDs by Ralph Stanley II

No, Ralph Stanley II may never be as innovative or well respected as his legendary father. That still should not diminish the fine bluegrass-country albums he is making on his own.

Working in the considerable shadow of his family legacy has always been tough on "Two," but his constant references to it don't help. For starters, there is the title track, "Stanley Blues," co-written with his banjo player, Steve Sparkman. Daddy himself shows up on tenor vocals for two songs, and the songwriting credits lean heavily toward the classic Stanley catalog, from Carter's, "We'll Be Sweethearts In Heaven" to Ralph's, "Tennessee Truck Driving Man."

Two, like another of his father's singers, Keith Whitley, tends to sound more like a mellow country singer than a true bluegrass vocalist. If you're not into genre-based hair-splitting, "Stanley Blues" is a solid disc, and if it had any other name on the cover, its creator might be given a little more credit for making it on his own.