Every time The Boxcars open their cases, a clinic on how to play Bluegrass music ensues. The two-time IBMA Bluegrass Instrumental Band of the Year has achieved a level of musicianship that sets a standard in the genre. They have a knack for merging the power of traditional Bluegrass with an updated style that draws in new fans.
Familiar With the Ground exemplifies a band that embodies the definition of “super-pickers.” Top tier singers and musicians that have used their talents to craft a weighty album that is clever, complex, melancholy and profound.
The lead off track “Lungs,“an unlikely cover of the darkly poetic Towns Van Zandt ballad, is brought to new life by lead vocalist Keith Garrett. A singer’s singer, Garrett’s range and powerful tone give The Boxcars a distinctive sound that is carried throughout the album and especially shines on the title track, “Familiar With the Ground,” written by Garrett.
Sharing lead vocal is eleven-time IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year, Adam Steffey, whose sorrow-drenched baritone perfectly fits the subjects of the tracks he handles; “Raised on Pain,” “Cold Hard Truth,” and the murder/outlaw themed “Marshallville.” Familiar too is the lead singing of award-winning banjo and fiddle master, Ron Stewart on his own composition, “Branchville Line.” The entire album is rounded out by the exceptional harmonies of the group.
Familiar with the Ground sees the addition of newcomer, Gary Hultman, who matches his more experienced band mates with resonator guitar playing that is as exciting as it is tasteful. Add that to the perfect timing and tone of bass man, Harold Nixon, and the previous “super-picker” claim holds true.
Fans are already familiar with the masterful performances of The Boxcars and will be astounded, yet again. “I’m Dreaming of You” fulfills the requirement for upbeat, straight ahead traditional songs as does the 150-beats-per-minute moonshiner tale, “Brown Hill” that together close out the 11-track collection.
If the ground is Bluegrass perfection, The Boxcars are familiar with it. If the ground is life pouring out of the hollers, The Boxcars are familiar with it. Whatever ground you’re digging in, the Boxcars have the tools.
2. Raised On Pain
3. When The Bluegrass Is Covered With Snow
4. Familiar With The Ground
|5. Hogan’s Goat
6. Branchville Line
7. Cold Hard Truth
8. Let The Water Wash Over Me
10. I’m Dreaming of You
11. Brown Hill