Doyle Lawson perfected his unique high and lonesome bluegrass sound more than thirty years ago. Although his band, Quicksilver, has seen many personnel changes with thirty-nine different members over the years, but its musical identity has remained constant. Lonely Street, his 34th release, continues Lawson's legacy of vocal precision coupled with instrumental virtuosity.
With only one original tune, the instrumental "Down Around Bear Cove," Lonely Street is more a performance album than a songwriting album. Tunes from longtime bluegrass and country tunesmiths such as Carl Jackson, Marty Robbins, and Buddy Cannon join tunes from newcomers including Lisa Shaffer, Dave Lindsey and Chris Stuart. In Lawson's hands every tune sounds as if it was written specifically for him. The opening song, "Monroe's Mandolin," features a solo mandolin intro reminiscent of Bill Monroe's own "My Last Days On Earth" complete with seagull sound effects. Tim Mensy's "The Human Race" takes full advantage of the double meaning of human race to explore the erosion of traditional values, which is not exactly an alien concept in bluegrass.
His current band includes Darren Beachley on guitar and vocals, Carl White on bass and vocals, Joey Cox on banjo, Josh Swift on resophonic guitar, Weisenborn guitar, and percussion, and Brandon Godman on fiddle. Lead vocals are evenly divided between Beachley and Lawson. But regardless of who handles the leads, Quicksilver's overall vocal sound still features tight three-part harmonies and soaring tenor lines. This immediately identifiable vocal style makes Lawson's band unique. The lockstep elocution and barbershop-accurate phrasing gives the band a tighter sound than any other bluegrass band past or present.
Doyle Lawson has had a long association with Gibson's OAI division. Gibson even makes a special edition Doyle Lawson model F-5. On Lonely Street Lawson chose to play Gibson's limited edition "Victorian" mandolin, which combines F-5 and F-4 features. But regardless of what instrument he plays, Lawson's special mandolin style comes through. His use of tightly controlled tremolo and double-stops may not be as flashy as many younger players, but his musicality and raw power is undeniable.
The old reviewer's cliché is, "If you like this sort of thing you'll also like this," but in the case of Doyle Lawson Lonely Street continues to expand his legacy of albums that define his unique style, regardless of who's in his band, or what year the album was recorded.