After working for a few years with mild success in the mainstream area of country music, The Roys - comprised of Lee Roy and his sister Elaine Roy, smartly turned their focus, like Ricky Skaggs and others before them, towards Acoustic Country Music and Bluegrass with 2011's well-received Lonesome Whistle. Not wanting to lay around too much, the duo returns with their sophomore album for Rural Rhythm Records, New Day Dawning.
A seven track album - part of the label's idea to record shorter albums to bring new music more often - New Day Dawning starts off with the title track (co-written with Steve Dean) discussing that step we sometimes need to take to get out of the darkness of negativity and on to the road of hope and living life. It's a sweet track with fantastic mandolin and fiddles just a great traditional country meets modern Bluegrass feel that is highlighted by The Roys sibling harmonies and Elaine's Lee Ann Womack-like lead vocal. Elaine also sings lead vocals on the lead single, the spirited "Still Standing" (Written by the duo) and the beautiful "Living Scrapbook," a song which is like songs mentioned below how they discuss memories and stories ripped directly from Elaine's life, her 'living scrapbook." This is the kind of fantastic song that recalls great songs Alison Krauss cuts from Robert Lee Castleman for her albums. Elaine co-wrote it with Steve Dean.
Lee takes the lead vocals on "Daddy To Me," a song he co-wrote with Lonesome River Band's Brandon Rickman, a beautiful Traditional Country ballad that recalls some of the finer tracks from Marty Raybon and Ricky Skaggs' best work."Windin' Roads" (Written with Mark Houser and Jay Brunswick) reminds me of the great acoustic folk of Newgrass stalwarts Nickel Creek with Lee's vocals reminding me of Chris Thilie's as he sings a lyric about our hometown and the strength the memories of growing up there have on us. It's a similar theme that pulses through the beautiful Acoustic Country of "Grandpa's Barn," a story song of small town America that Lee Roy wrote with Lee Alderman.
New Day Dawning closes out with the simply superb "Fast As We Roll," which has that claw hammer banjo style that is such a staple of Bluegrass and vocally it find Lee singing a melodic lyric about the realities of life and how that life is so dang fleeting. This is grounded in Bluegrass, which each of these songs are, but there's still their other roots, like Folk and Country, that peek in and out from time to time. Still, no matter what you may want to call New Day Dawning, it's a strong collection of songs that shows some real growth from Lonesome Whistle and there truly's not a bad track to be found on the record.
Rating for strong songwriting, Bluegrass and Traditional Country melodies and strong production.