There’s a lot to like aboutt Sideline. First of all, the picking is first rate. Second, the harmonies and vocals are amongst the purest and best you’ll hear coming out of any bluegrass, roots, or Americana band. Finally, the songwriting. Ahh, yes, the songwriting. It’s simply superb. A good band is only as good as the songs they have. Fortunately Sideline has the goods there.
“Thunder Dan,” the lead single from Front And Center, opens the record. And with the gorgeous fiddle, mando and banjos back up the story song about the kind of outlaw that movies are made about. In other words, this is one picaresque lyric. “Frozen In Time” is the kind of song everyone can relate to and fans of traditional country balladry will find lots to like about the track. Gordon Lightfoot’s “Song For A Winter’s Night” has never sounded better than it does in the hands of Sideline while traditional fiddle ballad “Bluefield WV Mtn. Girl” rolls like the hills and hollers of Appalacia while “Memories That We Shared” feels like a long lost George Jones ballad but is known in Bluegrass circles as yet another Dudley Connell classic.
After the album closes with the stunning take on the P.D. classic “Cotton Eyed Joe,” It’s easy to want to put Front And Center on repeat and continue to listen to the songs contained within over and over again, which is probably the best thing that one can say about any album.