Album Review – Dailey & Vincent’s “Let’s Sing Some Country!”

We’re used to country bands and artists these days going bluegrass for a little change of pace. Alan Jackson, Dwight Yoakam, Sturgill Simpson and the like have done this over the years to some good success. But it’s rare for a purely bluegrass outfit to flip the script and go country. That’s exactly what Grand Ole Opry members and 35-time IBMA winners Dailey & Vincent decided to do with their first original album in five years, and they pull it off with flying colors.

The duo was formed in 2008 after Jamie Dailey left Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver where he was the lead vocalist and guitarist, and paired up with bassist/mandolinist Darrin Vincent who previously played with Ricky Skaggs in Kentucky Thunder, as well as in the family band The Sally Mountain Show with his sister, the Queen of Bluegrass, Rhonda Vincent. Since then they’ve become a mainstay of the traditional bluegrass circuit, often mixing Gospel sentiments in with their songs.

But sensing a change of pace was needed, they decided to cut loose and record a country album this time. Granted, when they say “country,” don’t think of straight traditional country, or the 90s country sound that’s all the rage now, and most certainly not the more contemporary country you may hear on the radio. Really, the best way to describe this album is a project where the duo decided to release themselves from the rigid confines of traditional bluegrass to let the songs and the vocals become the centerpiece of the music as opposed to the bluegrass instrumentation.

The biggest takeaway from this approach is how amazing the vocals and the vocal arrangements on this album sound. Already top in their field as singers, Let’s Sing Some Country! really zeros the audience onto the singing and vocal performances, whether its the highlonesome, high register bluegrass singing brought to more songwriting-based country compositions like the opening song “I’ll Leave My Heart in Tennessee,” or the quartet magic of “Dig a Little Deeper” and “Feels Like That Again” reminding you of vintage Oak Ridge Boys with the bass voice bringing chills to the back of your neck.

Dailey & Vincent leave the songwriting to others on this album, but to favorable results. Some recognizable names like Ashley Monroe, Alison Krauss, Jimmy Fortune, and Rhonda Vincent make contributions to the album, but the only immediately-recognizable song is probably “Hillbilly Highway,” which Steve Earle fans will immediately finger. Perhaps the best written track on the album is Vince Gill’s “Young Man’s Town.” A dud of a single for Gill back in 2003, it’s cutting and honest realization about the rhythms of Nashville were as relevant then as they are now, and confer a lot of wisdom.

Many of the songs on Let’s Sing Some Country! have at least some reference to religious or Christian notions, which is customary for the duo, though no song fully veers into the Gospel or contemporary Christian category. Sometimes though, the production kind of does, with a song like “Closer To You” feeling rather syrupy and a little overly sentimental. Again, this isn’t an in your face “Country!” album necessarily. The production and music are more of a rootsy contemporary style as opposed to a honky tonk sound, but it’s more country than it is anything else.

There are also a lot of just fun tracks on this album like “Message From the Farm,” to go along with some sentimental and acoustic ones like the final song “If I Die A’ Drinkin'” with some great steel guitar. You can tell Dailey & Vincent had a lot of fun making this project. 15 years into a career, things can start to feel stale sometimes, and this bluegrass duo freshens things up by releasing this country record to favorable results.


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