His bluegrass is substanch!
Playing Time – 34:16 -- When Ken Carriere of the Goodtyme label saw a young man named Bo Isaac perform, he was very impressed. What he saw was an incredible talent, a musician and songwriter with unbelievable audience appeal and fantastic potential in bluegrass music. Mountain Heart’s Steve Gulley didn’t hesitate when asked to produce Bo Isaac’s debut album. Apparently, Bo only sings on the project although he’s pictured on the cover with a guitar. The stellar supporting cast assembled for this project include many top names in bluegrass - Jason Moore, Tim Stafford, Ron Stewart, Jim Van Cleve, Adam Steffey, Steve Gulley and Dale Ann Bradley. Recorded at Dixie and Tom T. Hall’s studio in Franklin, Tn., the result is one of straight-up-and-down drivin’ grass. While Bo wrote nine of the twelve cuts, the title cut comes from the pens of Billie Smith, and Tom T. and Dixie Hall. Lyrics are included in the CD jacket, but a few have minor typos, and a couple verses were left out from the title cut.
Isaac hails from a small mining town along scenic U.S. 23 called Wheelwright in Floyd County, Kentucky. With his band called The Wheelwrights, you might see Bo singing “That Place Across The Mountains,” with a sense of optimism and desire to make a better life out of the Appalachian coal mines. He also sings about “seeking fame and fortune” in Bill Castle’s “It’s In My Mind To Wander.” Well, he’s well on his way with this album that could possibly even make my top ten list for 2006. After being introduced to bluegrass at an early age by his grandparents, Bo would eventually be working in bands with Larry Cordle, Dave Evans, Ernie Thacker, Gerald Evans, and others. Now, his goal is to succeed as the front man with his own band.
Bo Isaac is a singer of breathtaking ability and range, and his vocalizing reminds me of another who hails from that part of Kentucky – Ricky Skaggs. The choruses are powerful with Steve Gulley and Dale Ann Bradley singing harmonies. Isaac also writes his originals with a flair for stories that clearly have a beginning, middle and end. And just what the bluegrass doctor orders, the lyrics are straight-forward and conversational. I also liked the occasional catchy hook like “That’s What You Get (For Rubbing It In My Face)” or the barn-burning “Six More Miles To Nowhere.” Another sure crowd-pleaser is “The Working Man Way,” which also alludes to that better life to live when the bossman yells for overtime. Bo superbly handles his pensive love song, “We’ve Got A Good Thing Going On” and his own gospel selection, “Forgive Them (For They Know Not What They Do).”
Bo Isaac proves that he’s something special and has the qualities to go far. He’s an entertainer with considerable charisma. His bluegrass is substanch! My guess is that the telephone request lines are ringing off the hook for more of Bo’s brand of ‘grass. (Joe Ross, staff writer Bluegrass Now, Roseburg, OR.)