A slightly routine album, lifted by some excellent singing and songwriting.
‘Somewhere Beyond’ is Breaking Grass’s sixth album and from the first song, ‘100 Degrees In The Shade’ has an instrumental mix that is exactly what you might expect, from the Dobro riff that opens the piece to the mandolin, banjo, and fiddle that take the main parts of the tune. ‘Money Can’t Buy You’ is largely a Bluegrass jam with words. Solos from all the main players breakup the verses, and then it fades out which always feels a lazy way of stopping a song. You may want to give the impression that they played all night, but a proper shape to a song just works so much better on record. Fortunately, the next song ‘Free’ is far more like it. A tale of work and life frustrations, that turns in the last verse into an uplifting story of victory over Cancer. The words sit over a choppy Mandolin and a fiddle that punctuates the lyrics with the right level of pathos. But again it fades out. With a benefit date for the charity Musicians Against Childhood Cancer listed there is a clearly a story behind this song that fuels singer Cody Farrar’s particularly passionate delivery of his words.
‘The Gift‘ is a more sombre song altogether, written from the point of view of a hammer, a religious metaphor for lack of free will. ‘Let The Good Times Go’ bounces along on Mandolin and Fiddle solos again and is one of the better up-tempo songs here.
Their press quotes a review “Cody Farrar sings and writes just the way I like to hear it…soulful with some grit!” Certainly Farrar’s voice is the best thing about the album and the thing that raises it above Bluegrass by numbers. His delivery of ‘The Boy On The Black Horse’ is another song where is delivery of the words turns a song that would otherwise be unremarkable into something special. ‘Pauline’ a tale of a teenage boy getting rejected by his crush is an amusing song, and again they score better on an up-tempo number.
The playing Is mostly just fine, and when they stretch themselves on songs like ‘The Boy On The Black Horse’ or the closing ‘Down In The Darkness’, which has a hymn like quality to it, they show that they are capable of a genuinely great album. This is very close, and as an introduction to their music works very nicely, but they may well have made better albums in the past.