Monday, November 3, 2008

Dailey & Vincent

Entertainer of the Year. Album of the Year. Vocal Group of the Year. Emerging Artist of the Year. Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year. Male Vocalist of the Year. These were the awards picked up my Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent at the International Bluegrass Music Association's 2008 Awards Ceremony. And Darrin Vincent shared in one other one, as well, such that the two members of the band walked off with an unprecedented seven IBMA awards. Well deserved, I say.

When the Dailey & Vincent CD arrived in my mailbox at WKCR, I couldn't wait to take a listen to it. I consistently had enjoyed Jamie Dailey's work with Doyle Lawson -- he was a member of Quicksilver for nine years -- and I had found Darrin Vincent to be an underused element of Ricky Skagg's Kentucky Thunder -- he played some light archtop rhythm guitar and added harmony vocals in that ensemble for almost 10 years without ever really getting to step out of the shadows (and sometimes quite literally being hidden behind the rest of the band). And now they had united together to record a CD for Rounder.

The album opens with a blast of classic (but largely unknown) bluegrass in the form of Al Wood's song "Sweet Carrie." Originally recorded in 1973, Dailey and Vincent fire this one up with help from Joe Dean on banjo and Andy Leftwich (from Kentucky Thunder) on fiddle. The song just has all of the right elements: a blistering banjo lead-in; a trifecta of thematic lyrical elements (railroads, an inspiring woman and a mean boss); a hot fiddle solo; and beautiful harmony vocals on the chorus. Many of these elements come around again on "Poor Boy Working Blues," a song that Jamie Dailey wrote and first recorded with Doyle Lawson on the Hard Game of Love CD. I loved it there, and I love it again on the Dailey & Vincent disc. The song leads with unaccompanied harmony vocals -- then the blistering banjo kicks right in.

The award for Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year was given for Dailey & Vincent's treatment of the great Gillian Welch and David Rawling's song "By the Mark." When I first listened to the CD, I found the singing on this one to be a bit too nasally -- and I still think that -- but since it won the award, I've given it a few more listens, and I think it's a terrific song, and I'm pleased that it will get some additional attention from their recording of it.

"By the Mark" is sung in a classic brother duet style -- a la the Monroe Brothers, the Blue Sky Boys or the Delmore Brothers -- with a lead part (Jamie Dailey) and a high tenor harmony (Darrin Vincent) and guitar (Jamie Dailey) and mandolin (Darrin Vincent) accompaniment. This style returns on the Jamie Dailey/Doyle Lawson gospel composition "My Savior Walks with Me Today" and then the Ronnie Bowman co-authored "Music of the Mountains." The former is a straight-ahead gospel number where Darrin takes the lead. They maybe take it a hair too fast, but the harmonies are spot on. The latter is a nostalgic and folky little ditty.

The other winner from the disc is "Don't You Call My Name." Recorded before by Del McCoury and the Johnson Mountain Boys, this is a typical bluegrass cheatin' song where the spurned lover now rejects the unfaithful partner:
Don't you call my name
'cause I won't answer.
Don't you call my name
'cause I won't be there.
You cheated on me, dear,
For your last time.
Don't you call my name
'cause I don't care.

Stuart Duncan is the fiddler on this one, and Joe Dean again plays a solid banjo part.

The last great duet supergroup was perhaps the Dudley Connell and Don Rigsby union. Their first disc was excellent, but they they slipped a little bit on the follow-up. Let's hope that Dailey and Vincent can avoid that sophomore slump and keep the great albums coming!

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