The first thing one notices about this incarnation of Lonesome River Band is how much lead vocalist Rickman sounds like Marty Raybon, former vocalist of Shendandoah. It’s an uncanny resemblance that helps give this band a sound that easily translates to country music. “Them Blues” instantly shows off the band’s bluegrass pedigree and Rickman’s country-tinged vocals. It’s a song that explores the high lonesome sound that is bluegrass music (often sad songs). Shelor plays an exciting solo on the song while Hartgrove’s fiddle fills in around the rest of the sturdy performances for the bands.
“Dime Store Rings” is a song Rickman wrote with Charley Stefl and it sweetly tells a story about a young couple that makes it through rough patches in their lives with the one thing that never costs a thing: love. This is the kind of song that country music used to always feature and sadly the mainstream has forgotten them. Still, this song proves that the songs aren’t only out there but being written by folks in Nashville writing rooms. Leslie Satcher and Larry Cordle collaborated on “Wires and Wood,” a song that seamlessly blends a traditional country vocal and bluegrass melodies into something tangible that features sparkling instrumental performances.
While there is a ‘contemporary’ feel to many of the Lonesome River Band’s performances, traditional bluegrass is represented on the tracks “Somebody’s Missin’ You,” “Long Way From Here,” a Rickman song co-written with Kevin Denney, and the Ralph Stanley classic “I’d Worship You” which is then followed up by the traditional “Struttin’ To The Ferrum.”
The band closes out “No Turning Back” with one of the better performances of Billy Yates now classic “Flowers.” Written with Monty Criswell, Rickman is able to pull out all the pain found in the lyric and pours it into his vocal. In a just world this is exactly the kind of song that country radio would embrace and play so much that it gives both Lonesome River Band and Billy Yates hugely successful chart success. While that’s unlikely to happen, there are roots and bluegrass stations spinning this fine album and that’s certainly great. I wholeheartedly suggest fans of great country and bluegrass music check “No Turning Back” out. It’s certainly one of the better bluegrass albums I’ve heard in the past year or so.