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Sounds Like Home

Steve Gulley

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Album Review

Based on the chronology of the famed bluegrass singer's career, it was possible that this infectious, very traditional-sounding, and wonderfully lively genre recording might have been a one-off before Steve Gulley focused on his new trio, Grasstowne; the lead singer of Mountain Heart since their inception in 1998, he officially left the band at the end of 2006. The interesting thing about this transitional project is that Gulley surrounds himself with some key members of his former group throughout the 14-track collection: fiddler Jim VanCleve, mandolin player Adam Steffey, and bassist Jason Moore. The four create a true swan song to Gulley on the lively, autobiographical "Mountain Heart," in which the singer declares where his heart will always lie. The rest of the disc is pure down-home bluegrass joy, with equal parts folk, gospel, and pop in the mix. "You Couldn't Pay Me to Care" is a lushly harmonized, sparsely arranged breakup ballad, but he runs into more lively territory from that point, with Ron Stewart's banjo propelling the clever "Livin' It Down" and the explosive singalong jam "Big Rock in the Road." Gulley ventures into traditional Southern gospel territory with the glorious spiritual "Prepare to Meet Thy God," then takes things back to Earth with wife Debbie Gulley on the traditional weeper "My Elusive Dreams." But not for long, as a few tracks later he defers lead vocals to his dad, Don Gulley, on a very traditional arrangement of "Nearer My God to Thee." With this diverse solo debut, Steve Gulley truly pays homage to all his inspirations, earthly and divine.

Sounds Like Home, Steve Gulley
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