The Railsplitters’ High, Lonesome Sound
Here’s a video of a song called “Boarding Pass” from the Railsplitters, one of the more auspicious new bluegrass groups I’ve heard in a while. The Boulder, Colorado quartet—Lauren Stovall, Dusty Rider (real name!), Peter Sharpe and Leslie Ziegler—are all noteworthy songwriters and singers. They convey the enthusiasm of eager newcomers along with the sort of polish you’d expect from consummate professionals. The tracks on their eponymous debut album are typically more upbeat than this plaintive ballad but it’s my favorite. As this performance of the song demonstrates, the Railsplitters mix just a little pop and folk with their bluegrass and their greatest strength may be Stovall, who combines a strong stage presence with emotive, unaffected vocals. That high, lonesome sound has rarely sounded better.
Jeff Burger (byjeffburger.com) edited Springsteen on Springsteen: Interviews, Speeches, and Encounters. His next book, Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen: Interviews and Encounters, will be published in April 2014 by Chicago Review Press.