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Country - Released August 2, 2019 | Rounder

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Country - Released January 1, 2003 | New Rounder

Contemporary bluegrass supergroup Blue Highway's gospel album Wondrous Love shines brightly with reverent harmonies and hard-earned precision. Expertly recorded and produced, each voice gets equal space and every instrument's strum is clean and warm, intimate and clear. Peppering their repertoire with a handful of a cappella spirituals, the band not only demonstrates their ability to harmonize like a choir, but when the music kicks back in after these vocals-only tracks it reminds the listener of Blue Highway's strong pickin' ability as well. Pure and honest, reverent and welcoming, bright and rollicking, clear and convicted, Blue Highway have continued their winning streak of terrific albums by picking a theme close to their hearts and making it available to everyone who will listen. Far beyond being just one of the best bluegrass-gospel albums of the year, Wondrous Love could easily stand on critics' lists as one of the best albums of the year. ~ Zac Johnson
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Country - Released September 9, 2016 | New Rounder

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Blue Highway have been one of the most well-respected bands in bluegrass since they made their debut in 1996, and with the group's consistent excellence on-stage and in the studio, there hasn't been much in the way of change in their story. 2016's Original Traditional actually marks a turning point in Blue Highway's career as they celebrate their 20th Anniversary -- it's their first album since Dobro master and founding member Rob Ickes left the group, and introduces Gaven Largent, a gifted 19-year-old picker making his debut with the band. (All the more remarkably, this is only the second personnel change in the group's history, and Largent is the only current member of Blue Highway who didn't appear on their debut album.) It's a compliment to Largent to say that many fans might not notice the difference; the young man's Dobro solos on numbers like "If Lonesome Don't Kill Me," "Last Time I'll Ever Leave This Town," and "She Ain't Worth It" are technically impressive and melodically sound, and fit these songs like a glove. Elsewhere, Original Traditional finds Blue Highway doing what's made them bluegrass legends; the group's instrumental work is uniformly excellent, with tight ensemble picking and great soloing from Jason Burleson on banjo, Shawn Lane on fiddle and mandolin, and Tim Stafford on guitar. The band's outstanding harmonies are still in excellent shape (their a cappella version of the gospel standard "Hallelujah" is one of this album's highlights), and the lead vocals from Stafford, Lane, and bassist Wayne Taylor are strong and sincere. And as the title suggests, Original Traditional testifies to Blue Highway's gift for bringing fresh ideas to music that still honors the roots of bluegrass, with 11 original songs that deal with subjects as old as love gone wrong, and as urgent as a young man running from a life of abuse and desperation. Not many groups in any genre can sound as fresh and vital after two decades together as Blue Highway do on Original Traditional, and if another 20 years might seem overly optimistic, there's no audible reason why this group shouldn't have at least another good decade of heartfelt music in them. ~ Mark Deming
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Country - Released January 1, 2010 | New Rounder

This well-selected set celebrates Blue Highway’s 15th anniversary as a band with several key tracks drawn from the group’s five-year association with Rounder Records, and amazingly, the original lineup (Tim Stafford, Wayne Taylor, Shawn Lane, Rob Ickes, and Jason Burleson) is still intact at the 15-year mark. The bluegrass quintet first hit the scene starting in 1994 with a trio of albums with Rebel Records before moving on to Rounder for 2001’s Still Climbing Mountains, following it with the gospel-fueled Wondrous Love in 2003, Marbletown in 2005, and Through the Window of a Train in 2008, each of which is represented here. Two new cuts plus a re-recorded version of “Some Day” and a track from a Rob Ickes solo album are also included. ~ Steve Leggett
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Country - Released August 2, 2019 | Rounder

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Folk/Americana - Released April 19, 2005 | Rebel Records Llc

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Country - Released January 1, 2014 | New Rounder

Blue Highway have been practicing a delicate balancing act for the past 20 years, paying homage to the history of traditional bluegrass with timeless precision, but while writing strikingly original material that is gently progressive and modern, even though the songs often feel like they came out of the century before. It's a pretty neat trick, and one that Blue Highway continue to pull off with grace and intelligence on The Game, the group's 11th album, released in the 20th anniversary year of the band's existence. All of the songs here, save one, the haunting shape note-sung and fiddle-augmented traditional "Hicks's Farewell" that closes out the album, were written by one or more of the bandmembers, which is part of why Blue Highway are so unique on the contemporary bluegrass scene. They write good songs, songs that are more than mere facsimiles of traditional bluegrass, and there's enough pure country singing in the lead vocals and harmonies of Tim Stafford, Wayne Taylor, and Shawn Lane to almost call what Blue Highway does "pop bluegrass," in the best sense of what that might mean. The Game is yet another fine set that shows off the group's intelligent songwriting and precision playing and singing, from the haunting mountain drone ballad "Where Jasmine Grows" to a pair of bending, swaying, and jaunty instrumentals, "Dogtown" and "Funny Farm." The opener and title tune, "The Game," a roving gambler-styled ballad that sounds older than the Appalachian Mountains but is a completely new song, as much about what is now as it is about what was then, sets the stage. This is the natural and graceful musical balancing act Blue Highway have always done so wonderfully for so long, and as this 20th anniversary release shows, they aren't about to stop doing it. ~ Steve Leggett
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Country - Released January 1, 2008 | New Rounder

Blue Highway have been dominating the bluegrass charts since they came on the scene in the late '90s, and Through the Window of a Train is another impressive addition to their canon. The bandmembers wrote or co-wrote every tune here and while they still hew to their traditional playing, many of the tunes will surprise purists with their liberal slant. Wayne Taylor's "Homeless Man" tells the story of a Vietnam vet who dies of exposure after a lifetime of wandering the streets in a post-traumatic daze. When they sing "In this land of plenty where so many have it all, he sleeps in an alley half a block from city hall," it brings a lump to your throat. Rob Ickes drops notes that fall like frozen teardrops from his Dobro. "Two Soldiers" is another implicitly antiwar song, the tale of the two uniformed men who show up on the porch to announce that a son or daughter is never coming home. This is the kind of tune that can easily be over-sentimental, but the vocals and instrumentation here are understated, making the song an emotional blockbuster. "Blues on Blues" could easily be a mainstream country hit, a plainspoken song about broken hearts and lost love with hot picking from Ickes on Dobro and Shawn Lane on mandolin. "Life of a Travelin' Man," "Just Another Gravel in the Road," and the title tune are typical songs of hard times, wanderlust, and lost love, elevated by the band's stellar harmonies and signature musicianship. The instrumental "The North Cove" pays homage to the Celtic roots of bluegrass. The tune ends with a double-time jig that showcases Jason Burleson's banjo, Tim Stafford's guitar, and Lane's Irish-flavored fiddling. ~ j. poet
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Folk/Americana - Released April 19, 2005 | Rebel Records Llc

Contemporary bluegrass at its best, this album contains masterful playing, inspired singing, and memorable songwriting. Blue Highway turn in an affecting vocal and instrumental performance on guitarist Tim Stafford's haunting "The Rounder," as well as ripping through a cover of Merle Haggard's "Huntsville" and showcasing their gospel side on a soul-stirring arrangement of the traditional "God Moves in a Windstorm." Shawn Lane's lonesome tenor is pleasing, as are the harmony blends and the lead vocals of the rest of the band. Ace Dobro player Rob Ickes -- voted 1996 Dobro Player of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Awards -- shines throughout, rounding out this band's second effort and making it more than a worthwhile choice. ~ Jack Leaver
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Country - Released January 1, 2005 | New Rounder

Absolute quality has been a hallmark of Blue Highway's canon, and Marbletown doesn't lower the standard one bit. Starting with the title cut (by Mark Knopfler), the album is a series of peaks, from the aching "Tears Fell On Missouri," about a woman knowing her husband has left her and their children, to "Three Finger Jack," with its stunning mandolin and banjo work from Jason Burleson. By now these guys know how to make all the pieces fit together perfectly, and they do. They are all consummate musicians -- and they're gifted writers too, well worth every accolade that's been heaped on them over the last decade. Some pieces do stand out, even amidst the high quality: "Quarter Moon," with its lovely harmonies, is a gem, while "Wild Bill" offers a delicious melody for the story of Wild Bill Hickock. Once again, Blue Highway have delivered. ~ Chris Nickson
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Country - Released September 9, 2016 | New Rounder

Blue Highway have been one of the most well-respected bands in bluegrass since they made their debut in 1996, and with the group's consistent excellence on-stage and in the studio, there hasn't been much in the way of change in their story. 2016's Original Traditional actually marks a turning point in Blue Highway's career as they celebrate their 20th Anniversary -- it's their first album since Dobro master and founding member Rob Ickes left the group, and introduces Gaven Largent, a gifted 19-year-old picker making his debut with the band. (All the more remarkably, this is only the second personnel change in the group's history, and Largent is the only current member of Blue Highway who didn't appear on their debut album.) It's a compliment to Largent to say that many fans might not notice the difference; the young man's Dobro solos on numbers like "If Lonesome Don't Kill Me," "Last Time I'll Ever Leave This Town," and "She Ain't Worth It" are technically impressive and melodically sound, and fit these songs like a glove. Elsewhere, Original Traditional finds Blue Highway doing what's made them bluegrass legends; the group's instrumental work is uniformly excellent, with tight ensemble picking and great soloing from Jason Burleson on banjo, Shawn Lane on fiddle and mandolin, and Tim Stafford on guitar. The band's outstanding harmonies are still in excellent shape (their a cappella version of the gospel standard "Hallelujah" is one of this album's highlights), and the lead vocals from Stafford, Lane, and bassist Wayne Taylor are strong and sincere. And as the title suggests, Original Traditional testifies to Blue Highway's gift for bringing fresh ideas to music that still honors the roots of bluegrass, with 11 original songs that deal with subjects as old as love gone wrong, and as urgent as a young man running from a life of abuse and desperation. Not many groups in any genre can sound as fresh and vital after two decades together as Blue Highway do on Original Traditional, and if another 20 years might seem overly optimistic, there's no audible reason why this group shouldn't have at least another good decade of heartfelt music in them. ~ Mark Deming
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Country - Released January 1, 2001 | New Rounder

Consistently turning in the best contemporary bluegrass performances on record, Blue Mountain continues their streak with Still Climbing Mountains. Vocalist Tim Stafford and the exceptional dobroist Rob Ickes are well-worth every IBMA award they've won, and the songs remain as strong as any the band has recorded before. An early highlight is the blistering instrumental "Monrobro," featuring some of the fastest dobro playing on record, and the rousing harmonies of "Danville Pike." Producer Jerry Douglas may have something to do with the dobro-centricity of the album, but the band is certainly playing to their strengths, and the help they get from Alison Krauss and legendary country drummer Kenny Malone on the spiritual "Seventh Angel" only makes their best qualities stronger. In a year of many terrific bluegrass releases, Still Climbing Mountains ranks among the best of them. ~ Zac Johnson
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Country - Released June 24, 2003 | Rounder

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Folk/Americana - Released April 25, 2006 | Rebel Records Llc

Combining crack musicianship, solid vocals, and good songs, Blue Highway gained a reputation as a premiere bluegrass supergroup in the mid-'90s at Rebel Records. Between 1995 and 1998, the band cut three albums for the label, It's a Long, Long Road, Wind to the West, and Midnight Storm. And as so often happens, the band, for one reason or the other, moved on to a new label. But as the Rebel compilation states, it all started here, and Lonesome Pine collects cuts from all three albums to create a portrait of a young bluegrass group on the make. Listening to early cuts like "In the Gravel Yard" gives the impression that members Shawn Lane, Wayne Taylor, Tim Stafford, Jason Burleson, and Rob Ickes knew what they were about from the start. Blessed with three lead singers, a distinctive dobro player, and fine harmony, songs like the lead track sound traditional without sounding old-fashioned. One oddity is that Lonesome Pine is only 44 minutes, which means there should've been room for nearly 30 more minutes of music on this disc. This takes nothing away from the 13 songs here, but the album, as excellent as it is, could've been an even more definitive collection. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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Country - Released January 1, 2011 | New Rounder

Sounds of Home, Blue Highway's tenth album in its 17-year existence, is also the bluegrass quintet's third CD, following Still Climbing Mountains and Through the Window of a Train, to consist entirely of original songs written by members of the group. It is a tribute to both the bandmembers' fidelity to bluegrass tradition and to their songwriting ability that it would be possible to listen to the disc without realizing that the material is all newly written. Shawn Lane (guitar, mandolin, fiddle, vocals), Wayne Taylor (bass, vocals), and Tim Stafford (guitar, vocals) with his writing partner Steve Gulley all contribute traditional-sounding numbers that touch on issues of love, family, work, faith, and, of course, home in a manner that never betrays the 21st century origins of the tunes, and the group, also including Rob Ickes (Dobro, slide guitar) and Jason Burleson (banjo, guitar, mandolin, vocals) plays them in traditional bluegrass styles that include melancholy ballads ("Sounds of Home" itself), instrumental breakdowns ("Roaring Creek"), and even an old-timey country sound (the steel guitar-infused "My Heart Was Made to Love You"). Lane's high tenor voice, reminiscent of Bill Monroe, adds to the traditional feel of "I Ain't Gonna Lay My Hammer Down" and "Nobody's Fault But Mine" when he sings lead, and also gives the required "high lonesome" feel when he provides harmonies. Love is professed and denied, nature is celebrated and feared, manual labor sustains and threatens ("Only Seventeen" follows a teenager down a mine), and, throughout, God rules the universe. And it's all set to some blistering fingerpicking on the acoustic instruments, making for an excellent Blue Highway album to add to the collection. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Folk/Americana - Released April 19, 2005 | Rebel Records Llc