Album Review

IIIrd Tyme Out - The Best Durn Ride

IIIrd Tyme Out - The Best Durn Ride

Liner notes must be presumed to have a commercial purpose, yet they can also be truthful. When Ron Thomason's notes to this second self-release by one of bluegrass' most beloved groups assert that Russell Moore's singing "rises to the level where only a few giants have stood," none but the most obdurate devotee of rough, unpolished vocals will challenge the claim as anything but a simple statement of fact. IIIrd Tyme Out is a band of many strengths, but more than any, Moore's voice is the key to its success. The Best Durn Ride finds the group completing the integration of its newest member, fiddler Greg Luck. With a fine, mournful voice that earned him a years-long stint as J.D. Crowe's lead singer, Luck spells Moore on several leads -- his own "I Won't Be Around" among them -- adding a new dimension to the band's already considerable vocal abilities. As in the past, the instrumental work here is reliably solid, driven by the hard-picking Steve Dilling on banjo and the classy, inventive mandolinist Wayne Benson. Though the album marks no significant stylistic changes, it's worth noting that Moore steps out on lead guitar a bit more than he has in the past. He's got more songwriting credits, too, and his originals fit well with the rest of the material, which includes classics from Bill Monroe and Don Reno as well as newer songs by bluegrass A-listers Becky Buller, Bill Castle and David Norris. Moving to their own label may have cost IIIrd Tyme Out something in promotional exposure, but in terms of quality, the group hasn't dropped a stitch.