Gary Brewer & The Kentucky Ramblers’ new single “Pass Along the Good” pairs the veteran Americana singer/songwriter and his band with the gifted and legendary Jim Lauderdale. The multi-time Grammy award-winning artist’s warm and authoritative vocals join an already outstanding recording. It further diversifies the band’s sound adding classic country music elements to their songwriting wheelhouse. They are more than convincing in the role. Brewer and the Ramblers boast an audible affinity for the music that never comes across as forced.
Staple genre touches provide some of the song’s highlights. The guitar work invokes an electrified “high lonesome sound” with the right degree of instrumental support fleshing the song out. Classic country devotees will see several of the song’s changes coming from a mile away but it doesn’t diminish their effectiveness. It’s a pleasure to hear Brewer and his cohorts play the music with such relaxed skill.
Echoes of the genre’s past abound but there’s nothing outright imitative going on. Brewer and Lauderdale long since mastered the art of pouring old wine into new bottles and “Pass Along the Good” provides a primer in “making something your own”. You hear Brewer and Lauderdale’s identity emerging in the song’s timeless message and in the vocal phrasing. Lauderdale and Brewer alike sing about the virtues of leaving something good in this world like men rhapsodizing about their children. They deliver the lyrics with a patient and life-affirming spirit.
There’s artistry in the lyrics as well. They are rife with poetic economy, individual lines lacking even a sliver of fat, and the rhymes never sound strained. Brewer and Lauderdale are clear students of the form; “Pass the Good” boasts modern production values and rings with clarity throughout, but its lifeblood is effortlessly traditional.
Songs such as this are invariably brief and “Pass Along the Good” is no exception. Anyone looking for extended instrumental breaks will be disappointed, but the track nevertheless gives Brewer’s band plenty of space for demonstrating their chops. Their talents are, however, turned in service to the song. It’s a foundational element for this sort of music, if it’s any good, and “Pass the Good Along” qualifies.
It may be an one-off, but the quality of this track behooves Brewer, the Ramblers, and Lauderdale to work together again. They share a special chemistry that’s increasingly rare these days and there’s no reason to believe they couldn’t equal or better “Pass Along the Good”. It certainly accomplishes its stated goal.
It doesn’t just urge us to pass the good along in our every day lives but passes along this style of music over to succeeding generations. So long as adherents such as Gary Brewer, his band mates, and Jim Lauderdale are still out there, someone will be spreading the good word about this music and ensuring it lives on. This new single is one of the best new examples of its strengths and abiding power that I’ve heard in many years. “Pass Along the Good” doesn’t strike a single false note.
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