NewFound Road

Same Old Place

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The secret weapon of NewFound Road is lead singer Tim Shelton, who comes powerfully out of the gate on the band's fifth album with his trademark rich, chesty baritone roar. It's a voice that would sound much more at home on a mainstream country album than it does in a bluegrass context, where a premium is usually placed on a sharper, thinner "high lonesome" sound. But NewFound Road easily counterbalance Shelton's country-ish vocals with hard-edged traditional bluegrass accompaniment, and on tracks like the gospel-inflected "Try to Be" and the richly soulful "Love Stay Away from Me," the result is a sound at once effortlessly modern and deeply traditional. The band's name was chosen back when NewFound Road focused exclusively on gospel material, and while they no longer limit themselves to that repertoire, it's still where they sound most at home. Notice how perfectly tight their a cappella harmonies are on "Give Me Jesus," and notice how they wisely resist the temptation to take "I Am the Man Thomas" too quickly and instead let the song's powerful lyrics and sweetly astringent chorus carry the song forward. There are lots of instrumentally virtuosic bluegrass bands out there, and lots of bands with fine singers, but very few that combine technique with taste in the way that NewFound Road does.

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