Album Review: The Grascals - “Before Breakfast”

Grand Ole Opry favorites (with over 150 performances on the iconic country music program) return with an album which blends traditional country roots and bluegrass as only the Grascals can.

In a genre of constant change where band members come and go, The Grascals have retained most of the core of their band from their earliest beginnings with guitarist Terry Eldredge, bassist Terry Smith and mandolinist Danny Roberts present for every Grascals recording. IBMA award winner Kristin Scott Benson has been on board since 2008 and the band’s newest members, fiddler Adam Hayes and guitarist/vocalist John Bryan joined in 2013 and 2016, respectively. The band dynamics haven’t changed all that much despite these changes, something that helps for the band’s music, especially on Before Breakfast, the band’s fine new album (and 4th) for powerhouse Mountain Home Music Company.

There’s a blend of uptempo ravers, downtempo ballads and honest to God Bluegrass favorites on Before Breakfast. The opening single, Sleeping With The Reaper, is definitely the kind of dark lyrical song which has often been part of the Bluegrass canon. Written by Grant Williams and Becky Buller, the song allows for all of the band’s talents to shine from high lonesome harmony to stellar instrumentals. “Delia” is another stellar highlight, this one with a bit of a Celtic influence bleeding into the modern bluegrass sound while Lynchburg Chicken Run” is a delightful instrumental where the band is able to showcase their chops as one of Bluegrass’ top entertainers.

“There Is You” joins “Demons” and “Pathway Of Teardrops” as traditional country ballads and this one, written by Flatt Lonesome’s Kelsi Hargill, is about faith and devotion whereas “Demons” is an introspective sort of track. Meanwhile, "Pathways Of Teardrops" is a fantastic revisit to a classic Webb Pierce song which also was made into a Bluegrass standard by Bobby Osborne. Like every great bluegrass album, the band's faith isn't left behind as they showcase on "He Took Your Place" and "I've Been Redeemed." Meanwhile, the band gets a little fun and goofy on "Beer Tree" and "Clear Corn Liquor." All these many facets and sides of Before Breakfast make The Grascals who they are, one of Bluegrass music's top bands, and this album is one of their best.