With "Bill Monroe's Ol' Mandolin" Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road deliver a mix of traditional bluegrass tunes along with some well chosen classic country songs given an authentic bluegrass makeover. The poignant title track kicks off the set with Allen Dyer singing David Stewart's composition about Ricky Skaggs' induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame when Skaggs was asked to play Monroe's old mandolin ("Lord, he picked up that old Gibson/He embraced it like a friend/He held it like the Bible/As it softly spoke to him").
The Larry Nixon tune "They Call it Bluegrass" digs into the history of the music with an emphasis on the role of Carolina in the formation of the artform linked primarily to Kentucky ("You know Bill Monroe/He came down to Charlotte in the fall of '45/Met Mr. Scruggs from out of Shelby/And bluegrass music came alive"). Bandleader Jordan also contributes a pair of solid originals with "Living Like I'm Dying" and "Mama Can You Hear That Train" on which she provides lead vocals and her signature mandolin licks.
Dyer handles most of the vocal duties on the country covers. While Dyer may be no George Jones he is more than up to the task with an effective rendition of the Bobby Braddock/Curly Putnam classic "He Stopped Loving Her Today, as well as a pair of Michael Martin Murphy tunes "Lost River" and "Cherokee Fiddle." Conway Twitty's "Boogie Grass Band" is a natural pick that works nicely, as does Jordan's take on the Allen Reynolds' "Ready For the Times To Get Better" made famous by Crystal Gayle.
Produced by the band members the instrumentation is stellar throughout including Ben Greene (banjo,bass), Randy Graham (guitar, bass), Matt Hooper (fiddle) and Joe Pessolano (dobro). With the brilliant musicianship supporting strong vocals "Bill Monroe's Ol' Mandolin" achieves the goal of keeping bluegrass vibrant.