Mark Diedrich has put out an album that has a country-rock feel and style in most of the songs. The few that are not in this genre are not too far from the signature style of the artist. They touch on bluegrass, gospel and rock, which adds just a bit of variety, but never wanders too deeply. Mark Diedrich's musical influences (the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Flying Burrito Brothers) comes shining through in his compositions, but he still manages to convey to the listener through lyrics and melody lines, an individual, original, signature style and sound. On "He Sure Could Sing," Mark Diedrich tells the story of Gram Parsons, former member of the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers. The lyrics tell a tale of a young talented musician who has hit the big time but things take a tragic turn -- the death of the singer/songwriter from a drug overdose in 1973. He and Susan Shockey display some angelic harmonies, and the hot licks from the steel guitar of Dean Peterson highlighted by the harmonica accents from Steve Books color the presentation into an exceptional aural adventure. "Stranger Yet" has been a part of the artist's repertoire for much of his career and has endured the test of time. "Something Tells Me," which focuses on the optimism that love can survive through thick and thin, was originally written by Mark Diedrich's former musical partner, Brian Peterson. He rewrote the song's lyrics and turned the melody into something which reflects his own style. The song is a slow piece which has elements of the Eagle's stylings, while the signature Diedrich charisma in the vocals creates a truly captivating and intriguing performance. The interpretation of the Buddy Holly and Norman Petty classic "True Love Ways," from 1958, more than aptly displays that as a musical artist, Diedrich can style any piece into something which clearly reflects his signature sound and magnetism. The harmonica and pedal steel guitar add two fresh elements which brighten the melody. The tempo is also cranked up a notch, but the true strength in the piece lies in the outstanding lead and harmony vocals. The heart wrenching, "Sammy's Song" is a personal number which was inspired through the tragic loss of the artist's ten-month old son. The harmonica lends a haunting air to the melody, while the melodic vocal expression intensifies the presence and dynamics. The song has a similar, powerful, folk-ish expressiveness as tunes which came from the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young camp. "Universal Gathering" is extremely magnetic gospel bluegrass music at it's finest. With some hot guitar, sizzling banjo picking, and sweet harmonica licks from The Booker-Mini Band joining Mark Diedrich, one is sure to get out of the chair to cut a rug to this foot-stomping, knee-slapping revival number. "Universal Gathering" also helps to showcase to listeners another side of this multi-talented singer and musician extraordinaire. His passion for American history is blended with his music in the unique piece "Boots and Saddles." The beat is intense while the accentuations from the harmonica color the melody, the lead guitar solo in the bridge carries the melody to another expressive plateau as it takes on an elemental rock based, Neil Young-esque intensity in dynamics. One should be forewarned that "Boots and Saddles" has a very contagious groove, which is very addictive. Though the lyrics to "Still Without Ceasing" were not written by Mark Diedrich, he has certainly made them very much his own with the heartfelt emotion he puts into the presentation. The lyrics were actually written by a French woman, Madame Jeanne Guyon, while she was imprisoned in Bastille on charges of heresy. The harmony vocals of Diedrich and Lori Reinalda, of the band Wake-Up Call, are certainly strong charismatic factors in the overall composition. Mark Diedrich's album will be a welcomed addition to the collection of music any fan of the Byrds has accumulated. With his personal lyrical content, this artist is one that forms a bond with a listener that will withstand time. He has the charisma and talent that should take him places, or at least one should feel that this one is a keeper.
AllMusic Review by Larry Belanger