Bobby Osborne & the Rocky Top X-Press,
Try a Little Kindness
(Rounder, 2006)

Bobby Osborne & the Rocky Top X-Press can match any band when it comes to playing basic bluegrass. "The Rocky Top X-Press," both the band and the tune, is a mighty combination of smooth tunes and fast picking, banjo, dobra and mandolin.

Bobby Osborne himself has the very sort of unvarnished country-boy voice that has come to symbolize bluegrass singers in the minds of most aficionados. But when they Try a Little Kindness, they reach deeper than the country roots of bluegrass and into its gospel and spiritual soul.

Osborne delivers every line with a faith that turns each verse into a prayer. There's nothing here but a man, a mandolin and a steady if standard bluegrass band, but there's an echo of angelic choruses surrounding these tales of lost dreams and struggling souls. The stories of bluegrass and country are after all the epic stories written in human proportions; faith, betrayal, abandonment -- and what Osborn sings of so well, the need or just the hope of salvation.

Osborne can sing with absolute conviction that we're "Living in the Last Days Now" and still be planning his retirement in "Mansions for Me" without hypocrisy in either his music or his soul. It's just the old story of faith and despair, and one soul making a choice, one note at a time.

by Sarah Meador
16 September 2006

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