Fast Track is technically a new band – they’ve just released their debut, self-titled album from Engelhardt Music Group – but the members themselves should be familiar faces to most bluegrass fans. Formed from members of David Parmley’s Cardinal Tradition band after Parmley announced his retirement from the road last year, Fast Track has quickly found favor with radio for their hard-driving, traditional sound.
The group’s first single, I’d Like to Wander Back to the Old Home, is a toe-tapper from the pen of bass player Ron Spears. A familiar story in the popular “going home again” vein, with the added touch of the narrator missing home from his prison cell, it features a smooth vocal from Spears and some fine fiddling from Steve Day. Another popular single has been opening track Blue and Lonesome Again, also written by Spears. With a dark drive guided by Dale Perry’s banjo and Jesse Brock’s mandolin, it finds the narrator filled with pain every time he hears the whistle of the train that took his woman away.
Another enjoyable number is She’s Mine, a fun uptempo number that sees the singer addressing his woman’s ex – “She’s mine, all mine, she’ll never be your baby. You never should have let her get away.” It’s a neat twist to what might otherwise be a more straightforward love song. On the more lonesome side of things is Play Me a Song I Can Cry To, with the great line “Play me a song that sounds like tears.” Guitarist Duane Sparks sings lead on this one, infusing it with a classic country vibe.
Tennessee Rain has a bluesy tone and a great story of a man running from a crooked sheriff who “thinks he’s a lawyer, jury, and judge.” It has excellent vivid imagery and would make a neat music video. Lonesome Wind is also strong, with a similar feel to Blue and Lonesome Again – a man with a broken heart, pining for the woman who left, set to a rushing melody.
Broken In Friends and Worn Out Shoes has a bit of a different feel from most of the rest of the album – more easygoing, with a more contemporary sound (think acoustic country). Sparks’s lead vocals are earnest, sharing a contemplative message about friendship. Life’s Highway, with vocals from Steve Day, also has a positive outlook, focusing on remembering that the good times usually outweigh the bad. The song, which comes from Bobby Smith & The Boys from Shiloh, has a number of clever lines, including “Don’t worry about what tomorrow brings me, tomorrow may not care anyway.”
Many of the songs here are newer cuts, or band originals, but they have that classic sound that makes you rewind each track, thinking “Where have I heard that before? Is that some obscure B-side from the sixties?” Through the majority of the album, Fast Track has captured the fast-paced, driving sound that was a precursor to today’s more popular B-chord mashgrass. This has been a great year so far for traditional releases – you’ll definitely want to add Fast Track to the top of your “to listen to” pile.
Another candidate for New Artist of the Year? I think so.