Now I have to say I am a bit ashamed to be doing this post now. As a good fan of STYX, I should have reviewed this five years ago when this album was released. However, what is done is done. I am very happy to have come back after these years and found this bluegrass gem.
No STYX hasn't released a new album but their rocker Tommy Shaw has released a solid bluegrass album. The embarrassing part for me is that I didn't review this release when I saw Tommy Shaw on the broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry back in 2011. I enjoyed what I heard then but didn't follow up. Then when I noticed on Face Book that is was the five year anniversary for the release, I realized it was time for a listen.
For one of the Rockers of the group, Tommy Shaw has always shined on his acoustic guitar work. From Fooling Yourself from Grand Illusion to the little known Diamond Boat on the River from Cornerstone, Tommy Shaw's acoustic guitar work has stood out. I remember reading an interview from Damn Yankees and Uncle Ted Nugent said Tommy Shaw was one of the great acoustic and 12 string players out there. And for any one doubting why a rock star from the 80's would have any connection to bluegrass please know that Tommy Shaw was raised in Alabama. Heaven knows he heard some country music down there.
The Great Divide is a very good bluegrass and mountain music release. To be honest, even though I live in Kentucky and know of Bluegrass and mountain music I can't speak to any expertise. I know I like what I have heard off the release and it sounds like music I have from this genre. There are several tracks that stand out on this album. Back in your Kitchen and Saw Mill are great fun and gets your toes a tapping. The Great Divide is a tender release and if you really listen it is hard to keep from getting a little misty. Quick side note on this track, one of the living voices of an angel is singing background, yes the tones of Alison Krauss are here. The best track on the release is Shadows in the Moonlight. It is a traditional country ballad dealing with class, loss and love. For an artist who has never released a country/bluegrass song I would put it up against any of the BRO country that is on the radio these days. I have to mention that there is one miss on this release, I don't get the song Give Em Hell Henry and just don't think it fits well is this album.
If you want to listen to bluegrass and hear what traditional country music can sound like give The Great Divide a listen.
Til next time, listen to the best - your ears deserve it.