Greg Cahill has been at the helm of the Special Consensus for over thirty years, and a handful of innovators (Robbie Fulks, Josh Williams, Casey Driessen) have logged time with his band. Cahill is a gifted bandleader and an impressively tasteful banjo stylist, playful enough to tackle Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies” with no hint of schmaltz.
His current touring band includes Ron Spears on mandolin, guitarist Justin Carbone, and David Thomas on bass. All are competent players and make appearances on this album, though Tres Nugent handles the majority of the bass duties. Tim Crouch guests on fiddle, and Rob Ickes and Phil Leadbetter each contribute dobro to one track.
Spears and Carbone are the primary vocalists, and both sing with healthy nods to contemporary country. Along with their own original material, the band draws from a variety of outside sources: Charlie Louvin (“I’m Gonna Love You One More Time”), Hank Snow (the title track), Roy Acuff (“Branded Wherever I Go”), and Keith Sewell (“Josie’s Reel”).
The playing is crisp, clear, solid and safe, yet it doesn’t have enough grit to be truly memorable. There’s plenty of polish, but not a lot of soul. Next time it wouldn’t hurt to leave just a few rough edges.