Celebrating their 10th year as a band, Nu-Blu has issued their newest release Ten. Founded in 2003 by husband and wife team Daniel and Carolyn Routh, Nu-Blu has developed a strong following while establishing their reputation as a progressive bluegrass band. While firmly versed in the traditions of bluegrass and gospel, they also bring other musical styles into their fresh, contemporary sound. This is a hard working band, their road schedule is relentless, playing many out of the way venues and bringing new audiences to bluegrass.
Daniel, guitar and Carolyn, bass are the driving force behind the band. They are joined here by longtime band members Levi Austin on banjo and Austin Koerner on mandolin with special guest appearances by Ron Stewart and Jim Van Cleve. While everyone in the band sings, the majority of the vocals on this recording are handled by Carolyn, a talented singer with a strong voice and good range.
The CD kicks off with “That Road,” their first single from the album. This Honi Deaton composition is a traditional bluegrass tune that speaks of a musician’s life on the road and why it keeps calling them back. The tune has a nice medium groove, tasteful instrumental breaks, strong backing harmonies and sets a good tone for the rest of the 10 tunes on the album.
“Without A Kiss” is up next with Carolyn on lead vocals. She delivers a strong performance on this sad tale of a wife that loses her husband to a coal mine accident. I really enjoyed her voice on this tune and found that it was at times ever so slightly reminiscent of Rosanne Cash.
“Caught in the Middle” brings us back to a medium tempo bluegrass tune the theme of which is being caught in the middle of giving up or giving in to life's day to day challenges. This is one of several songs that offer commentary on life in America today.
“Eddie’s Garage” is a “homegrown slice of Americana,” telling a story of smalltown America, Anytown USA if you will, where you have a local garage run by an honest guy that you trust to do a good job. It’s about pride in America, the heart and sole of the USA. Not a bad sentiment when you think about it and a style of life worth preserving in this age of chains and mega-stores.
Interestingly and somewhat along these same lines is “All Americans,” a tune that directly questions the divided state of our nation and people, and the fact that our elected officials can’t seem to agree on anything. “Aren’t we all on the same side? Aren’t we all Americans.” Good for them for putting it out there.
“Giant Squid” a contemporary tune composed by Austin Koerner is the only instrumental on the compilation and features nice solos by each instrumentalist.
Overall, discovering this recording was a nice surprise. Ten is my first exposure to Nu-Blu and I have to say there is a lot to like here. These are really good musicians and singers that deliver tasteful performances throughout the CD. Rural Rhythm Records. -Review by Jaques DiCroce