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The SteelDrivers

4.9 out of 5 stars 162 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 15, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

With one foot in the field and the other in the factory, The SteelDrivers are a beacon beaming their own version of rhythm'n'bluegrass far across the musical landscape. Highly regarded behind the scenes as songsmiths and session men - with innumerable hits, cuts, and licks to their credit - The SteelDrivers are stepping out at long last. In their ten capable hands, back-country high-lonesome collides with Delta soul, resulting in the freshest sound to emerge from Music City in recent memory. Via eleven original songs, their debut album offers revealing new takes on classic themes of redemption and loss, hope and home delivered with urgency and heart. The SteelDrivers are Richard Bailey, Mike Fleming, Mike Henderson, Tammy Rogers, and Chris Stapleton. "Really soulful bluegrass, with great songs. An incredible combination." -Vince Gill
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 15, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rounder
  • ASIN: B000XPU63S
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #693 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
...contemporary bluegrass is such a fertile field right now, with so many new styles, sounds, and ideas complimenting the timeless and traditional core that underpins the music. But even in such a rich community, these guys stand out. So much so that I hesitate to pigeonhole them as bluegrass at all...this is some sort of stringband country soul -- hillbilly r'n'b or something. I can't put my finger on it, and that's what I love about it.

Most reviewers are quick to point out Chris Stapleton's voice, which is riviting and unusual in an acoustic context: a sandpaper-roughened bluesy belt that never sacrifices the soul of the song in favor of histrionics.

But the whole band is greater than the sum of its already-formidable parts: Tammy Rodgers (remember her great duo album with Don Heffington "In the Red"? Buy it now!) nails the high harmonies and comes up with fiddle breaks that are melodic and organic but still surprising; Mike Henderson (you should buy all his Dead Reckoning albums with the Bluebloods, too) keeps the backbeat sharp with his mandolin and tosses in some great Monroe-ish funky solos; banjo vet Richard Bailey is so tasteful, his licks (smoothly blending melodic and Scruggs styles) always complimenting what is going on and never overwhelming it; and Mike Fleming drives it all with his big bass sound and smooth baritone vocals.

As fine as the musicianship is, this is a song band, and these tracks (mostly by Stapleton and Henderson) are all gems: clear and vivid portraits of heartbreak, struggle, and regret. Some have been cut by country acts (Chris has had two #1 hits in the past year, Henderson and Rodgers have both had big chart success as songwriters), but they are reborn here as stringband stomps and are all the better for it.
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While I have welcomed the revived enthusiasm for bluegrass in the last few years, I have heard little that moved beyond earnest homage, and few new songs in the genre were memorable. The Steeldrivers mark a creative advance on both counts.

The playing is exceptional -- dead-on and driving while eschewing ostentacious virtuosity. Chris Stapleton's growling, bluesy voice is certainly a departure from bluegrass norms, but an apt complement to the traditional instrumentation. But the songs are what distinguish The Steeldrivers' debut. The lyrics and hooks are fresh and moving, without cliché or pointless noodling.

My only disappointment is Mike Henderson's sublimated role here. He co-wrote eight of the 11 songs, and I have to believe that his powerhouse blues background is largely responsible for this band's distinctive hard-edged sound. But for a musician of his renown, his mandolin licks rarely stand out here. I look for him to step out a little more on The Steeldrivers' next release.
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I'm not a real big fan of bluegrass but I am a big fan of SteelDriver. Where this group pulls away from the pack is with the focus on songwriting, singing and soul.

Stapleton has written #1 hits for Kenny Chesney and Josh Turner and the band is an assembly of seasoned session musicians from Music City.

Toss all of this together with a raspy, kick-a$$ singer and you get some no-frills, hard drivin' workingman's music at it's best.
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Format: Audio CD
I was driving down the road here in Winchester, KY and heard music that had the hair on the back of my neck standing up! I heard a song about a man spending 40 days, and 40 nights in a jail cell listening to that "Midnight Train to Memphis", and knew right then and there I MUST have this. Luckily I heard it on XM radio. The name of the band was in lights, and I told my lady to remember the name so I can be sure to get this. I get home to find out The Steeldrivers album is a month away. I'm here to say it was well worth the wait. The sound of this music is what I like to call "Blues" Grass. I don't know if that term has ever been used, but man it sure suits this. Chris Stapleton roars with a voice that is VERY rare in this world, and an amazing band to back him. When you hear him you know it's him. His range, and style is unreal. He makes me ashamed to even open my mouth and utter a single note! This is the best stuff I've heard since The Black Crowes hit the scene in the early to mid 90's.

This is so unique and so refreshing, especially seeing the state of music these days, that I'd replace this 20 times if i lost it 20 times it's that good. JT IS TO THE BASS WHAT DOLEMITE IS TO PIMPIN'!
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Format: Audio CD
The SteelDrivers self-titled album will be released on Rounder Records in mid January. When that happens, the music community is going to get a surprise. Here's a band that puts the blues into bluegrass. This is a new experience and a new sound to acoustic music. Take a bit of rock-a-billy, blues, honky-tonk and traditional bluegrass. Put them into a big black cast iron pot on high heat and you get a hot mix of a new blues grassy sound.

From the start of the album, you know this isn't going to be another typical album of acoustic music. This is something new, unique and refreshing. A sound with a different beat, a different mix but using the same old instruments. This is also a sound that has enough relevance and familiarity that you will instantly be able to relate to it even though, it is something you've not heard before.

If you are looking for a traditional bluegrass album, this is not it. If you're looking for newgrass, this is not it. If you're looking for progressive grass, this isn't it. But, if you're looking to find the blues in bluegrass, you've found what you're looking for with The SteelDrivers. Bluegrass is based on the blues but the blues seem long gone from the genre. The SteelDrivers bring it back together with this exciting release. There is something personal and alive with this band that has been missing from the music scene for some time.

While the lively pickin' of bluegrass is here in songs like "If You Can't Be Good, Be Gone" and "Hear the Willow Cry", it is songs like the opening "Blue Side of the Mountain" and "To Be With You Again" that carry the soul of this album -- blues+bluegrass=SteelDrivers. The artistry of placing blues and bluegrass together using traditional instruments is a unique combination.
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