Emmitt-Nershi Band is one of those all-star troupes you can't really fault for anything. Their musicianship is tight, their songs hop and bound in the most intuitive and engaging ways. New Country Blues is a testament to the unending evolution of contemporary bluegrass, pulling influence from traditional and modern forms.
"Flight of the Durban" (purchase/download
) is the finest instrumental track on the disc, with its slow, incremental build. Suddenly, the banjo grabs the melody, and is followed expressly by fiddle and fiercely staccato mandolin. It's a terrific build through simple repetition.
Disc opener and title track "New Country Blues" (purchase/download) is another major highlight. Its assaultingly quick pace gets the music started on the right footing, establishing straight away the theme of the album—pulling away from the trappings of urban life in exchange for the simplicity of the country. Its refrain is sincere and catchy, "I ain't going back to the city no more / I'm staying right here on the farm." Emmitt's vocal delivery on this track is also not to be ignored. It's a sentiment repeated throughout the disc on other highlight tracks like "These Days" (purchase/download) and "I Come from the Country" (purchase/download).
The Bottom Line
As stated above, it's difficult to claim this band does anything but deliver exquisitely on New Country Blues
. If there's room for any complaint, it's that the sequencing marches from high-energy dance party music to slow, introspective rural dirge before disc's end. While there's not a bad tune on the disc, the songs in another order could have served to keep the energy rolling for the duration of the album.
Otherwise, it's a terrific record, sure to please fans of country, bluegrass, blues, folk, and swamp-pop alike.