The Crowe Brothers – Wayne on bass and lead vocals, Josh on guitar and tenor vocals – sing the high and tight harmonies that are a staple of bluegrass. Though the Crowes’ string band shares those same mountain roots, their musical heritage is more clearly drawn from brother harmony acts such as the Blue Sky Boys, Louvins, Delmores and Everlys.
The Crowes possess the sort of back-porch easiness often lost in the formality of bluegrass, giving the original “Million Dollars For A Broken Heart” a gentle western-swing, and elevating “Take Me By The Hand” from a recitation to a homespun statement of faith. That faith is also found in the gospel satisfaction of “I Know I’m Saved”. The brothers reach back to the Louvins for the questioning “Are You Teasin’ Me”, and extend the theme with a tale of unrequited love, “Why Not Confess”, previously done by the Louvins, Maddox Brothers and Blue Sky Boys. They offer up faithful renditions of Reno & Smiley’s “Better Luck Next Time”, with Don Reno’s son sitting in on banjo, and “Country Boy Rock & Roll”, picking up the hot tempo to a banjo, fiddle and mandolin (courtesy of Ronnie McCoury) bluegrass blaze.
From the Wilburn Brothers’ catalogue, they select the superb two-stepper “Which One Is To Blame”, sung with more hope than the original, and the altruistic, loping waltz “Go Away With Me”. With string player Steve Sutton taking over on banjo from their legendary former partner Raymond Fairchild, the Crowes become pre-eminent stars of their act. They bend their harmonies around romantic suffering so adroitly that you could easily forget this is a contemporary recording.