Album Review of
New Day

Written by Joe Ross
August 1, 2014 - 12:00am EDT
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Claire Lynch has carved out her own niche in the bluegrass and acoustic music field. The New York native, who relocated to Alabama at age 12, emerged on the bluegrass scene in 1974 when The Front Porch String Band (originally called "Hickory Wind") was formed in Birmingham. That was her beginning. She and her husband Larry, an accountant, disbanded the group in 1980 to start a family. 

Another "new day" occurred when a reorganized Front Porch String Band toured again from 1990 to 1997, the year that Claire won the IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year Award. Claire's vocal presence is also noteworthy on various others' albums from such artists as John Starling, Dolly Parton, Kathy Mattea, Emmy Lou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Pam Tillis and Patty Loveless. The mature and soulful singer keeps good company. 

The 42-minute "New Day" is Claire's sixth solo album and represents another refreshing new journey for the petite woman with big voice. She now surrounds herself with some folks who are far from everyday average pickers. Lynch's hypnotic voice seems perfectly balanced with the praiseworthy support of Jim Hurst (guitar, vocals), David Harvey (mandolin, vocals) and Missy Raines (bass). Depending on the song selection that ranges from blues to ballads and bluegrass to swing, we also hear the able assistance of Charlie Cushman or Alison Brown on banjo, Stuart Duncan or Andrea Zonn on fiddle, Rob Ickes on dobro, and Larry Atamanuik on drums. Their buoyant groove makes for a pleasant ride. 

Their repertoire comes from a variety of sources but always accentuating accessible melodies and bright lyricism. The opener, "Be Ready To Sail," reveals much emotional depth. "Train Long Gone" is a very catchy ditty. The funky beat of "Up This Hill and Down" conveys strength. A sensual midtempo swing number, "Fallin' in Love," is breezily romantic. A message of hope and inspiration is key to one of her Claire's own collaborations with Pat Alger called "Long After You're Gone." A savy uptempo bluegrass number, "Leavin' on that Evening Train," comes from the pen of Scott McAleer, a songwriter whose material is getting recognition as a result of being featured on recent albums from The Greasy Beans. Claire Lynch boasts an impressive track record, and she closes this album with a song, "I Believe in Forever," that epitomizes the spiritual glow that radiates from her entire performance. (Joe Ross)