One of the finest "undiscovered" bands to come out of upstate South Carolina in quite some time is Perry Road, a country-rock group lead by the husband and wife team of Matt and Annabelle Ranck, an extremely talented couple with influences as diverse as Gram Parsons, Janis Joplin, and John Prine. Matt plays guitar and mandolin and sings, and Annabelle sings, plays harmonica and percussion, including a faux "electric" scrub board. The band is rounded out by Donnie Durham on banjo and Dobro; Bob Hinch on Dobro, guitar, and trombone; Bari Smith on the pedal steel; and Don McCraw on bass.
Of the eight songs on the disc, six of them were written by Matt, and they are all quite good. Of course, Bob Hinch wrote or co-wrote both of the others, keeping it all in the family. The music is reminiscent of the best of the Flying Burrito Brothers, with an undeniable Gram Parsons inspiration, especially on "Company Man." "All I Can Handle" has the John Prine vibe going on, and it is right on par with Prine's writing. Bari Smith's pedal steel work is great, very reminiscent of Toy Caldwell of the Marshall Tucker Band, especially on "Light of Day," and Bob Hinch's trombone is a brilliant addition to the quirky "Dinosaur Bones." One of the catchiest cuts on the record is the country-fried "How Do You Expect," an all too honest look at the life of a woman who has to put up with a musician husband. Closing the disc is "Donna's Song," a beautiful acoustic guitar solo instrumental, and a fitting closer to a very satisfying set of tunes from a band that deserves to be heard. Perry Road has a lot to offer.