Nu-Blu, a bluegrass band hailing from Siler City, North Carolina, is set to release studio album number six called “Vagabonds” on Voxhall Records on April 28th. It was a privilege to preview this album. The musicianship is outstanding and a true slice of Americana. The husband-and-wife duo, Daniel (vocals and guitar) and Carolyn (lead vocals and bass) Routh are joined by band-mates TJ Honaker (vocals and banjo) and Clint White (fiddle and mandolin).
The album starts off with the upbeat tempo of “The Bridges That You’ve Burned,” showcasing Carolyn’s powerful voice from the get go. Another notable tune is “Still Small Voice,” featuring guest vocalists Jimmy Fortune and Ben Isaacs. Lush vocal harmonies and fast finger picking are a winning combination.
“640 Battlefield Drive,” albeit a beautiful song, was simply too sad for my liking but certainly accomplishes a heightened sense of emotions with a heart-wrenching story. Daniel handles lead vocals on “How Many Rivers” and Carolyn harmonizes exquisitely. My favorite track on this CD is “Gypsies on Parade.” It’s about life on the road and it has an autobiographical feel to it. It’s a bold statement but “Gypsies on Parade” is to bluegrass as Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” is to rock and roll.
The band also puts a bluegrass spin on the Willie Nelson/ Waylon Jennings classic “Good Hearted Woman” and Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” The arrangement on Dylan’s classic rock anthem is brilliant, complete with a layered string section that includes a standout fiddle that cries behind the vocals. If you like bluegrass, this is a must for your collection. Moreover, Nu-Blu’s “Vagabonds” album could serve as a great introduction to this fast picking genre of music.