Ultra-traditionalists Open Road take another spin in their old-timey hay wagon on 2004's In the Life, evoking the great bluegrassers of the '40s, '50s, and '60s like Jim & Jesse, the Osborne Brothers, and particularly Flatt & Scruggs. Although every member of the band sings, it is the high lonesome tenor whine of guitarist Bradford Lee Folk that cuts through the pickin' the most forcefully, evoking the Stanleys, McCourys, and Louvins of years gone by. An early highlight is the Louvin Brothers' "Bald Knob Arkansas," with the classic lines "Bald Knob Arkansas, to see my Linda Lou/I will be her lovin' man and always love her true/'Til I'm bald-headed too," and the dusty backroom feel continues from there. The album is broken up with a handful of capable instrumentals and runs through a series of terrific originals from Folk's own pen, including the biting "I'm Not Perfect." While Open Road's throwback sound is not as striking as it was on their Rounder debut, Cold Wind, the band still stands as the one of the brightest stars on the contemporary bluegrass scene, destined to be cranking out strong albums for years to come.
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AllMusic Review by Zac Johnson