Bobby Osborne

Bluegrass & Beyond

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Although he is hardly a household name outside of bluegrass and country circles, Bobby Osborne, through his mandolin and vocal work with the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers, the Stanley Brothers (regrettably he was never able to record with them), Jimmy Martin, and the band he started with his brother Sonny, the Osborne Brothers, has done as much as anybody to shape the modern sound of bluegrass, and no one on that scene has ever defined the possibilities of the mandolin in an ensemble more than Bobby Osborne. This set, his third solo outing for Rounder Records, finds him revisiting old songs, picking on a couple of new ones, and pretty much doing what he's always done, which is playing bluegrass music like it matters rather than just seeing how fast one can go. Working with Glen Duncan on fiddle, Bobby Osborne, Jr. on guitar, Dana Cupp on banjo, Matt DeSpain on Dobro, and Daryl Mosley on bass (collectively the band is known as the Rocky Top X-Press), Osborne brings a kind of timeless joy to these tracks, and his sound is a nifty cross between the old proto-bluegrass string bands and the honky tonk side of modern country, although, of course, it all comes out feeling like bluegrass ought to feel, high and lonesome but also full of spirited energy. Among the highlights are the insistent and harrowing "What Would You Give in Exchange for Your Soul," which features guest spots from Marty Stuart and Connie Smith, "After the Fire Is Gone," featuring Rhonda Vincent and Darrin Vincent, and the snaky flow and ancient sliding melody of "Different Definition of Love." Fun and solid without being flashy just to be flashy, Bluegrass & Beyond is yet another fine outing from this bluegrass pioneer.

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