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The Charlie Sizemore Band
Good News

Review By Steven Stone
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  Charlie Sizemore's musical career began at the age of seventeen when he was hired by Ralph Stanley to replace the legendary lead singer, Keith Whitley. Stanley said, "Charlie was one of the top lead singers that I've had through the years." That's high praise indeed, but on his latest release, Good News, Sizemore proves himself worthy of Stanley's accolades.

After leaving Ralph Stanley's band Sizemore went back to school, graduated with honors from University of Kentucky, and earned a law degree. Since then Sizemore has run a successful law practice in Nashville, TN, while also continuing to play bluegrass. He's recorded a series of well-received albums, including a tribute album, The Story Is…The Songs of Tom T. Hall, which received a Dove award nomination in 2002. Good News is Sizemore's first release on Rounder Records and it features his regular band with Danny Barnes on mandolin, Matt DeSpain on dobro, John Pennell on bass and Wayne Fields on banjo. On the very first song, "I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up," the band dispels any questions regarding their musicianship. They tear through the song at supersonic speeds – finishing the whole tune in 2:42, and yes, everyone takes a solo.

Sizemore penned four originals for Good News, and bandmates John Pennell and Matt DeSpain contributed one. Covers include Tom T. Hall's "Whisky Willie," Jeff Barbara's "Blame it On Vern," Hank Cochran's "My Dying Day," and Paul Craft's "Mama Turn Aloosa My Soul." My favorite cut has to be the Sizemore original "The Less I Drink," which typifies his clever yet pointed lyrics and catchy melodies. Not only can Sizemore write great songs but he also sings beautifully. Sizemore's voice has a wonderfully warm comfortable timbre that demands you listen. His take on bluegrass is closer to Doyle Lawson or the Nashville Bluegrass band, with an emphasis on tight harmonies and well-orchestrated arrangements instead of breakneck pace and instrumental pyrotechnics.

Co-produced by Buddy Cannon, father of the very gifted singer, Melonie Cannon, Good News sounds like a classic bluegrass album – with plenty of natural ambience and the vocals mixed right up front. Engineered by Paula Wolak and Butch Carr and mastered by Toby Mountain, the recording preserves each instrument's harmonic signature. Even the banjo sounds good. Although Charlie Sizemore may not be as well known as many national-level bluegrass practitioners, Good News will change that. His undeniable talent should earn him a much wider audience.

 

 

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