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Scratch Gravel Road

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Album Review

Banjo picker Greg Cahill has been leading Special Consensus for more than 35 years, and they're still as eclectic and polished as ever. Cahill started the band to feature his take on roots music by blending bluegrass with blues, swing, newgrass, and country music. The current lineup features Rick Faris on mandolin, David Thomas on standup bass, and Dustin Benson on guitar; all three trade off on lead vocals and harmonies. They don't waste any time, either on-stage or on record, and kick the album off with four of the album's strongest tracks. "Old New Straitsville Moonshine Run" is a traditional showcase for the band's speed and picking with Thomas' strong vocal supported by blazing solos from Faris, Benson, and Cahill that mimic the velocity of a moonshiner driving down a moonlit road. "Monroe," an homage to the father of bluegrass performed in his style with former bandmembers Josh Williams and Chris Jones adding their solid harmonies. Faris sings lead on "Sea of Heartbreak," the Don Gibson hit reinvented as a midtempo ballad. "A Good Problem to Have" may well be the album's standout; a song that reminds us to count our blessings, even when they include minor problems like flat tires and cranky bosses. Thomas delivers its inspirational vocal without sounding overly sentimental. Other standouts include "Jacklene," a Cahill instrumental featuring producer Alison Brown on banjo. She plays a fancy harmonic lead with Cahill before breaking away for a concise jazzy solo. "On My Way to the Kingdom Land," an old hit for the Golden Gate Quartet, is given an a cappella reading that shows off the group's strong vocals. Tom T. Hall's "Trouble Let Me Be" gets a bluesy arrangement with a hint of ragtime in its arrangement while "Sunday Morning Without You" is a strong country/folk tune with a hint of pop in its tune and delivery. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Great Pickin

Special Consensus is one of my favorite bluegrass bands and I'm so excited they released this CD! The picker is quick but smooth and upright is fantastic. Each song is good and several could be singles, but the album as a whole is better than the individual tracks. The blend of bluegrass instrumentation, lyrics, and traditional country influence makes the album a great hybrid record and I hope the artist continues to do well with this kind of CD. Go Cahill!!!!

Another great album by Special C!

I absolutely love this album- It may even be my favorite Special Consensus album yet. Starting off with one of the best songs of the album, Old New Straightsville Moonshine Run, it never disappoints. No matter that you can't understand all the lyrics because you're hooked with the instrumental insanity and the catchy melodies! My other favorite songs are Sea of Heartbreak, and their amazing rendition of On My Way (to the Kingdom Land)! The two instrumental tracks (Mollie & Julie's Reel and Jacklene) are also amazing tracks because you really get to hear the intricacies of Special C's playing.
Scratch Gravel Road is a must purchase!

Hats off to Special Consensus

Special Consensus is a bluegrass band with much more to offer than smooth picking. As exemplified in this album, the members of SC definitely have the vocal talent and songwriting ability to anchor their instrumental sound. And together? They make for a band that is truly unstoppable in it's genre.

Simply put, Special Consensus and Scratch Gravel Road is a forced to be reckoned with!!


Formed: 1975 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed by banjoist Greg Cahill back in 1975, the Special Consensus have endured myriad personnel changes to survive for three-and-a-half decades; their music strikes a balance between the traditional and progressive schools of bluegrass. When Cahill and the Special Consensus began recording for Turquoise in 1990 (Hey, Y'all), their lineup featured guitarist Martin Marrone, bassist Dallas Wayne, and fiddler Al Murphy; by the time of 1993's Green Rolling Hills, it had been altered to include Cahill,...
Full Bio
Scratch Gravel Road, Special Consensus
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Customer Ratings