Bobby Osborne & the Rocky Top X-Press

New Bluegrass & Old Heartaches

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When you hear Bobby Osborne's pure, clear tenor caressing the lyric of a bluegrass tune it's hard to believe that he's in his early eighties. The voice still retains its high lonesome sound and his mandolin picking is as inventive and dexterous as it ever was. He's been a professional musician for over 60 years, still plays the Grand Ole Opry, and is one of the few founding fathers of bluegrass who's still in good health. As you might glean from the title of this album, the program here is made up of standards and new tunes composed by Osborne and his band. The Roy Acuff hit "Low and Lonely" still sounds brand-new here, with Glen Duncan's fiddle, Mike Toppins' banjo, and Joe Miller's acoustic guitar throwing off sparks to complement Osborne's lead vocal. Duncan's "I Wrecked My Life for You" is a new tune with an ancient message of anguish and heartache intensified by the harmonies of Osborne, Duncan, and Bobby Osborne Jr. Other standouts include "Muddy Waters," a hit from the early days of the Osborne Brothers given a haunted, nostalgic feeling by adding a bit of echo to the lead banjo line; "I'm Going Back to the Mountain," a Jake Landers tune that sounds unfortunately contemporary with its tale of hard work and endless mortgage payments; and "The Last Bridge You'll Burn," a song Osborne wrote in the '70s but only recently discovered while going through his old demo recordings. The latter song is a mournful, smoldering country blues taken at a funereal pace to accent Osborne's tender vocal and Duncan's affecting fiddle work.

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