Album Review

First Listen: The Price Sisters provide fresh take on classic bluegrass

The Price Sisters - A Heart Never Knows

The Price Sisters (Photo by Amy Richmond)
If you long for an earlier time, a simpler time, when country music was still mired in its deep Appalachian roots, you don’t want to miss The Price Sisters first full-length album “A Heart Never Knows” on Rebel Records, set for release on March 23, 2018.

At 23, twins Lauren and Leanna Price are definitely a throwback to an earlier time and its never been more apparent than on their first full-length album full of ancient tones.

Described as torchbearers for traditional bluegrass music, their plaintive tunes combined with musical prowess on the fiddle and mandolin, The Price Sisters musical stylings would make the late, great Bill Monroe proud. The undisputed father of bluegrass had his Blue Grass Boys, but I feel confident in saying that if Monroe was still with us, he might just dub The Price Sisters his Blue Grass Girls.

Indeed, they cover one of their musical hero’s tunes, “The Lee Wedding Tune,” on which they had the chance to play instruments loaned to them by Hall of Fame member Bobby Osborne (a 1924 Lloyd Loar mandolin and a fiddle that belonged to Monroe sideman Kenny Baker).

Inspired by the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou,” Lauren took up the mandolin and Leanna the fiddle at the tender age of 8. After performing as part of The Price Family band, the twins from Monroe County (I can’t make this stuff up), Ohio, struck out on their own as a duo when they were 17. They honed their musical skills at Morehead State University’s Kentucky Center for Traditional Music, where they earned bachelor’s degrees in traditional music and minors in business administration.

But don’t take my word for it. You can judge for yourself with this “first listen” of their first single from the album, “Singing My Troubles Away,” a Delmore Brothers tune, which has been covered by The Kruger Brothers, among others.

I think the twins take this catchy, upbeat tune and combine their sweet harmonies — reminiscent of the Carter Sisters crooning “Keep on the Sunny Side” — with International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) winner Bryan Sutton’s incomparable guitar picking to make it all their own. It comes as no surprise The Price Sisters also cover a gem of a Carter tune on their new album as well as an old-time gospel tune with several new songs from some of today’s top songwriters thrown in to complete the well-rounded album.

 

“When we first heard this song, it just made us feel good,” The Price Sisters write. “It’s a fun one to play and sing, and we like the idea that no matter what you’re doing, you can always just ‘sing your troubles away.’”

The Price Sisters’  “A Heart Never Knows” pairs them once again with Grammy-winning producer Bil VornDick. who has also produced Alison Krauss. In addition to Sutton, the sisters are joined by banjo master Charlie Cushman, and bassists Mike Bub and Dennis Crouch all putting their own unique interpretation of a style begun by Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys.

Rebel Records owner Dave Freeman says in a release that he was amazed when he first saw the Price Sisters perform in 2014. “To find young musicians today who can not only play and sing beautifully, as Leanna and Lauren do, but also really appreciate the music they are playing, bodes very well for the future of the music.”

After Freeman signed the sisters to the label, a well-received seven-song EP, was released in 2016.

But I’d love to hear what you think. Krauss or the Carter Sisters or a category all their own? Who would you compare these young musicians to? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

This post originally appeared on MusicReporterBlog.