Scott Brannon has been singing these songs since the time he could talk. Born in Martinsburg, West Virginia, he grew up listening to his father's bluegrass and country albums since before he could remember. Hank Williams and Reno & Smiley were his father's favorites, and thus became his favorites too. An early opportunity to see Charlie Moore and The Dixie Partners added another hero to the list. Having first been taught some guitar chords at 8 years of age by his father, young Scott soon developed into a strong lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, recording with the likes of Paul WIlliams, David Davis and Terry Eldridge.
Now, backed by an all-star cast, Scott Brannon brings you his first Patuxent Music release, a collection of some of his favorite recordings. Opening with Hank Williams' forlorn lament, "Wedding Bells," Mr. Brannon delivers a collection of classic country and bluegrass that he grew up listening to. Always familiar but never obvious, these selections run the gamut from the country of the aforementioned Williams, Carl Smith and Johnny Cash to the bluegrass of Reno & Smiley, Moore & Napier, and the Stanley Brothers.
Featuring the likes of Michael Cleveland, Lloyd Douglas, David McLaughlin and Marshall Wilborn, the tracks included here are presented in exemplary form. But at the heart of it all lie the clear, effortless vocals of Scott Brannon. It's a voice conducive to the plaintive nature of much of the material selected, as Brannon guides the listener through such tales of love lost (or never found) as Smith's "I Overlooked and Orchid", Cash's "I Still Miss Someone", and Charlie Moore's exquisite "Cold November Rain." Accompanied by Tracey Rohrbaugh's perfectly-matched tenor, the duo shows, much like Brannon's heroes Reno & Smiley, that you don't have to be related to be born to sing together. This is never more evident than on the Reno & Smiley selections, "Your Tears are Just Interest on the Loan" and the criminally overlooked gospel trio, "Mountain Church."
It's not all sorrow and woe, however. There's straight-forward bluegrass included here as well. Brannon pays tribute to another of his heroes, Charlie Moore, with two Moore & Napier selections, the honky tonky-ish, "Georgia Bound" and the downright mossy "My Dear One." The Stanley Brothers' playful "If I Lose" is given a lively reading, featuring some nimble interplay between Douglas and Cleveland. Hank WIlliams' joyous "Sing Sing Sing" appropriately brings the disc to a close, not only in the country tradition of ending with a gospel song, but also because this is an album about singing, and Scott Brannon, and the songs that he loves. - Joseph L. Scott