Grandpa Loved the Carolina Mountains follows Ron Spears' well-received debut, My Time Has Come. The big difference this time around is that mandolinist Spears is joined by his working band, Within Tradition. Guitarist Charlie Edsall, fiddler Bruce Johnson, bassist Jerry Logan, and banjoist Hal Horn bring lively instrumental work, good vocals, and an intuitive understanding of Spears' approach to traditional music. The rolling harmony of "Another Last Good-bye" gives the album a smooth start and is followed by the folkier "Girl From Boulder," which recounts the pleasures of love in the mile-high city. Spears has written nine of the album's 12 songs and proves himself a fine tunesmith, comfortable with both traditional and contemporary themes. The title cut poignantly develops the classic motif of leaving one's home only to spend the remainder of one's life trying to get back. The boys also put lots of pizzazz into several covers. There's a vivacious version of "I Know What It Means to Be Lonesome," and a relaxed take on Jonathan Edwards' "Little Hands." Listeners should also check out "Within Tradition" and "Poor Old Monroe," two instrumentals that give everyone a chance to cut loose. At 35 minutes, the album is a bit short, but this isn't unusual in a genre where most of the songs run three minutes or less. Spears and Within Tradition have cut a fine album that's sure to please fans of their last effort and entice new listeners as well.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.