If there was ever any doubt about the ties between Bluegrass and Country music, Only Me, the latest Rhonda Vincent project, shows that there are bonds and they are real bonds. The dual album - Bluegrass and Country showcases Vincent's comfort level in both domains. Vincent's early career was in Country music and her migration to Bluegrass was a natural for the mandolin-vocalist. This album ties her early Country roots to her current Bluegrass stardom as the Queen of Bluegrass.
In reviewing the album, I started with the second CD, "Country" because it made sense to start where this superb entertainer did. She continues to perform with Country artists and excells there. Her choice of Mike Johnson on pedal steel guitar was a perfect fit as are the fiddles of Tim Crouch.
Heartbreaking tear jerkers are the theme here. From "Teardrops Over You" to "When the Grass Grows Over Me" this album takes you back to the traditional Country of Tammy Wynette, Jeanne Pruett, early Emmylou Harris and others. "Drivin' Nails" is more what we expect of a Rhonda Vincent tune. It's got the upbeat life, energy and expression that defines her style.
Her vocalizations are emotional, carry the song and place it firmly on solid ground. These are the characteristics of a true professional entertainer. Vincent puts all her soul into each of these six tracks. There is no denying that she has what it takes and keeps getting better and better. She fits right at home with a good Country tune.
"Bluegrass" is the single name of the Only Me set. Simple, precise, definitive. On this CD, Rhonda Vincent knows how to pick 'em. She's picked some of the hottest pickers in bluegrass. She picked on her bandmates of The Rage to accompany her on this disc. She knows them. They know her. They play great bluegrass together and, they have for quite a while. That again is another comfort zone that allows the tracks on "Bluegrass" to flow effortlessly. Clean, pure and smooth Bluegrass Music the Rhonda Vincent way.
On the title track "Only Me" she features a special guest -- Willie Nelson. Here is Rhonda's flavor of bluegrass with that all familiar happy energy that her fans crave.
Her roll along style comes through in "I Need Somebody Bad Tonight" that comes close to being a true bluegrass country tune. Probably more country than bluegrass but, she makes it work and work well as the banjo and fiddle carry the tune into bluegrass roots territory.
Back to bluegrass on "It's Never Too Late", Rhonda performs another fine song with Gospel roots. Her musicians are like the queen's chariot as they support her without overwheming the song. A classic bluegrass technique that is one I personally like. Not many artists can balance all the elements this well. She does it with perfection.
This is fine mix of Rhonda's artistic skill as a vocalist, musician, entertainer spread out over two genres of music that reflect well on her roots and her path to where she is today. We'll all get to experience this wonderful project on January 28th when it hits the streets. Until then, listen for a track here or there on your favorite bluegrass station. You are sure to enjoy this latest project.