The planets would seem to have aligned for the Del McCoury Band to transcend its role as titan of the bluegrass world, and Del and the Boys, its second Ceili effort, is the ideal album to tap into the

The planets would seem to have aligned for the Del McCoury Band to transcend its role as titan of the bluegrass world, and Del and the Boys, its second Ceili effort, is the ideal album to tap into the energy. It's easy to see why Mr. McCoury and sons Ronnie (mandolin) and Rob (banjo), Mike Bub (bass), and Jason Carter (fiddle) are considered the best both at hardcore 'grass and stretching its boundaries. The senior McCoury's soaring tenor and Carter's wailing fiddle provide real authority to Richard Thompson's graphic outlaw biker anthem "1952 Vincent Black Lightning." "Learnin' the Blues," meanwhile, is a swaying, rolling country blues trip. "All Aboard" charges with purpose, propelled by sturdy banjo work, and Rob's guitar and Del's amazing vocals sell the crafty "Recovering Pharisee." Ronnie showcases his serious mandolin chops on the instrumental wonder "Goldbrickin'," and the group vocals are impressive on such neo-classics as "Gone But Not Forgotten" and McCoury's own "Unequal Love." With Del and the Boys, it's all about sterling musicianship, memorable songs, and a healthy dose of bluegrass-covered soul.—RW