Whereas last year’s group of Grammy nominees for bluegrass album of the year was packed with the legendary likes of Del McCoury, Steve Martin, Ralph Stanley and Allison Krauss (whose excellent LP “Paper Airplane” snatched the prize). The Grammys 2013 bluegrass nominees are a skirmish of lesser-known Davids with no real Goliath to speak of. The only difference among them is generational— some up-and-coming and others with decades of experience.
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With that in mind, let’s dive into the roster for the Grammys 2013 bluegrass nominees:
Noam Pikelny – “Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail” – Compass Records
The world wants you to listen to the Punch Brothers. While Chris Thile nabbed a best bluegrass album nomination last year, banjoist Noam Pikelny will look to the podium this year for the award. “Beat the Devil” has Pikelny riding his banjo back to the heart of bluegrass and onward to the genre’s borders, including takes on old bluegrass standards (“Cluck Old Hen”) and post-modern masterpieces (Tom Waits’ “Fish and Bird”). Thile will have another shot this year in a different category: he’s up for best folk album this year alongside Yo-Yo Ma on “The Goat Rodeo Sessions.”
Dailey & Vincent – “The Gospel Side Of” – Rounder/Cracker Barrel
Jamie Dailey and Darren Vincent made the rounds as supporting musicians before stepping into the limelight together as Dailey & Vincent. Both men are deeply religious, and in their new outfit, they’ve been weathering their Bibles for song writing inspiration. Their nominated album, “The Gospel Side Of,” is, unsurprisingly, no exception. What is a surprise? It was released by Cracker Barrel — and may or may not come half-price if purchased with a bowl of chicken and dumplings. All that aside, these two have some of the clearest voices in bluegrass today, and church-goer or not, the album is worth a listen for the harmonies alone.
The Grascals – “Life Finds A Way” – Mountain Home Music Company
The Grascals have been kicking around since 2004, when fellow Nashville-local Dolly Parton picked them up for a tour as her opener and backing band. Though the group isn’t currently involved with Parton any longer, they’ve borrowed a few pages from other major country and bluegrass stars’ songbooks for their newest LP, “Life Finds A Way.” The album includes covers of James Taylor and Dierks Bentley. Tonally, the album is clean as a whistle, if not a bit vanilla at times.