Bluegrass, like any other music, requires the right elements to make magic. Without good players, songs, and stirring performances, the music remains grounded. Guitarist/vocalist James Reams and banjoist Walter Hensley seem to understand this. While both men have enough talent to lead their own band, they've chosen to join forces and double their impact. Better yet, they've enlisted the aid of the Barons of Bluegrass to guarantee vocal and instrumental excellence. Together, the group provide a no-frills set that will please anyone who likes their bluegrass straight without a chaser. Hensley's brisk, lively banjo comes to the forefront early on the album, adding a bit of pizzazz to "Living Without You" and the instrumental "Lady Liberty." Unlike Earl Scruggs, Hensley unleashes a flurry of single notes that brighten up every corner of a track. Reams country-tinged vocals sound just right on pieces like "Lonesome Old Home" and he never forgets to express the blues portion of bluegrass. Reams and Hensley are supported by bassist Carl Hayano, fiddler Bob Mastro, mandolinist Barry Mitterhoff, and multi-instrumentalist Mark Farrell. Together, the Barons bring fine harmony and a comfortable ensemble style to the project, spurring the music onward. The good songs run deep on the album, so listeners will want to stick around for fun pieces like "Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves." the Barons of Bluegrass is fine album and will be cordially welcomed by traditional bluegrass fans.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.