Author: Varner, Marty

Dailey and Vincent

Hello my article readers! The recent news in music and more specifically in bluegrass, was the Grammy’s. Which means the rid of tension of who will win the awards. (Even thought the Grammy system is pathetically flawed where the word “best” actually means “most exposure”, but that is not the point of this article.) For best bluegrass album, the winner was The Del McCoury Band with their album Streets of Baltimore. While this a terrific album, the album that spoke to me the most and the album I believe should have won was the new Dailey & Vincent album, Brothers of the Highway. This recent album that only can support the groups already great reputation is incredibly diverse and I was pleasantly surprised by the huge jump that band made in instrumentalists.

This theory is supported by the first track called “Steel Drivin’ Man” which starts the album out guns a blazing. The ring of the banjo gives the tone the album needs to intro with, but the song in general also shows that while this is the same Dailey & Vincent that likes to have fun, they have definitely taken it up a notch in their arrangements and instrumental features. What makes the first track my favorite song on the album as well is the incredibly unique chord progression that is used on the chorus. For anybody who understands this it goes six minor, 2major, 3(with a 7) and then it goes to the 5 to resolve from the 2. When I first heard that funny chord in there, my mind was blown. I heard the chorus again and again in complete awe of what they did. The result is a new hook very few have heard before which is even more rare and appreciated in a genre like bluegrass where the hook is the most important part, and there are only so many hooks that can be put on the stereotypical bluegrass chord progressions.

Speaking of stereotypical chord progressions the old bluegrass classic “Close By” is the next song on the album. What makes this version unique from others is the peppier pace that this one is at. Of course it is not as fast as their first track, but I cannot recall hearing this song as fast as they have made it. Even though it is not similar to the Monroe version in that aspect they bring a classic Monroe move by having twin fiddles take the solos. The fiddles are also taking most of the fills throughout the tone so that the listener knows that Monroe is the inspiration of what Dailey & Vincent are doing on this song.

Another one of the best songs on the album, is their version of “When I Stop Dreaming”. Without even hearing the song, if one has any knowledge of Dailey & Vincent it is obvious that the tenor on this song from Vincent is gonna totally insane, and it does not disappoint. The song kicks off with an a capella turnaround of “When I stop dreaming that’s when I’ll stop loving you.” The tight harmonies that Dailey & Vincent get on these opening notes only gets better and better as the song goes on. I am dead certain that the reason why this song is on the album is because Vincent sings the tenor too well and nobody in the band wanted to waste the opportunity to have a song with top notch harmonies like theirs are.

Another song I really enjoyed on the album “Big River” which carries that peppy 3/4 tempo that I personally enjoy. The verse holds on the 1 and then goes to a quick 5, but the listener wants and predicts there to more. The song writer did a terrific job of falsely telegraphing the next chord that then never comes. These techniques are what separate professional song writers from the other along with incredible arrangements like there is in this song. When the last chorus comes the listener is predicting a repetition of the last couple, but that is not what happens. A bass vocalist comes in and sings the first line until the other parts stack on top which leads to a complete singing of the chorus in 4 part harmony. These types of tricks are the reason Dailey & Vincent are one of the biggest bands in bluegrass and specifically thought of as one of, if not the best vocal band in bluegrass today.

Posted:  2/1/2014

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