Tuesday, April 21, 2015
– The SteelDrivers' will dish out its fourth album of driving bluegrass, "The Muscle Shoals Recordings," on June 16 on Rounder.
Rolling Stone Country is offering an exclusive premiere of "Brother John," which features slide guitar by Jason Isbell, who also co-produced the track.
The album is largely inspired by Muscle Shoals, Ala. with its musical history of soulful music. Muscle Shoals also is the hometown of the SteelDrivers' lead vocalist and guitarist Gary Nichols, whose bandmates - fiddler and vocalist Tammy Rogers, banjoist Richard Bailey, mandolinist Brent Truitt and bassist and singer Mike Fleming - made the two-and-a-half hour trek from Nashville to Sheffield, Ala., to the NuttHouse Recording Studio to record 11 new original tunes, mostly written by Rogers and Nichols.
The music mixes soul, blues, bluegrass, R&B, country and rock. Isbell, Nichols' friend and musical compatriot since childhood, co-produced two of the 11 tracks and contributed slide guitar to two ("Brother John " and "Ashes of Yesterday").
Nichols wrote or co-wrote five of Shoals Recordings' songs, including the plaintive "Here She Goes," and the dark ballad "Brother John." Rogers has credits on five songs, including the waltz "Ashes of Yesterday" and the somber closer, "River Runs Red," a meditation on the Civil War. Richard Bailey composed the lone instrumental, "California Chainsaw." The one outlier on The Muscle Shoals Recordings is "Drinkin' Alone," a romp penned by Jay Knowles and former SteelDriver singer Chris Stapleton.