Album Review of
How I Hear It

Written by Joe Ross
August 15, 2021 - 9:57pm EDT
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Virginian Jeremy Stephens began playing banjo at age four, on a wooden instrument constructed by his father. By age nine, he’d formed a band (Shallow Creek) and appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” A 2000 winner of the Merlefest banjo contest, a year later (at age 16) Stephens released his first solo album Scarlet Banjo (Rebel). In 2010, he released Old Time Duets (Patuxent) with Tom Mindte. From 2010-2014, he worked as guitarist and singer for The Chuck Wagon Gang, as a multi-instrumentalist on the Ray Stevens’ Nashville TV show, and played banjo with Jesse McReynolds & the Virginia Boys.  In 2014, he and his fiddling wife (Corrina Rose Logston) formed a new band called High Fidelity, playing guitar.

Now, Stephens’ second solo album on the Rebel label, How I Hear It presents the music he loves, played and sung in a straight-forward, traditional style that emphasizes clear melodies and sensitive singing.  Stephens demonstrates his proficiency on banjo, guitar and mandolin, and he tears up instrumentals like “Sockeye,” “Lady Hamilton,” “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” and “The Bells of St. Mary’s.” He even adds some autoharp into the closer, “The Old Spinning Wheel” and some twin fiddle on “I’m Lost Without You.” I wish that more than six of the 14 tracks would’ve included his fine mandolin playing. His arrangement of an up-tempo “I’m Lonesome” features his solo vocals without harmony. Stephens and Logston are especially effective with their vocal duets on selections like the song he co-penned with Cecil Hall, “Could I Knock on Your Door?,” as well as “You’ll Be Lonesome Too,” “That Glorious Day” and “I’m Lost Without You.” This album is a treasure of expertly played bluegrass that captures the passion, exuberance, inspiration and mastery of multi-instrumentalist and singer Jeremy Stephens.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)