In a world where everything is at our fingertips, anyone with access to the internet can instantly listen to original recordings by Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Stanley Brothers, Osborne Brothers, Red Foley, or Doc Boggs.
For new bands, this plethora of original material means that to grab the attention of listeners, you must, in Hemmingway’s words, “Beat dead guys at their own game.” Pine Mountain Railroad does just that, delivering “authentic” bluegrass music that would make even Bill Monroe smile.
Alone With Forever is PMR’s seventh release. The band’s sound is heavily reliant on vocals with multiple harmony parts. And they don’t go for the easy baritone parts, either, but often add a high baritone over the tenor – up at nosebleed altitude; true high-lonesome harmonies. The opening cut, “Clementine” demonstrates this “stacked harmony” with Mark Cable singing a high lead over Cody Shuler’s tenor.
Along with their spot-on harmonies, they deliver great instrumental breaks. Cody Shuler’s mandolin, Matt Flake’s fiddle, and Elmer Burchett, Jr.’s banjo handle most of the solos. Every note is right.
Bluegrass purists who bemoan the diluting of the form by the evil influences of jazz, swing, old time, and rock and roll, will love Alone With Forever. Pine Mountain Railroad even has a food sponsor, just like Flatt and Scruggs did! Instead of some wussy ‘ol white flour, though, PMR sings the praises of Odom’s Tennessee Pride Sausage. You can’t get more old school than that.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Jun ’07 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.