ALBUM REVIEW

It's Just the Night Album reviews.

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It's Just the Night

The Del McCoury Band

Release Date: 08.12.03
Record label: McCoury Music / Sugar Hill
Genre(s): Country Western

80 Music-Critic Score
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That High Lonesome Sound, Comin' Back Around
by: matt cibula


Wow, there is nothing spookier than Delano Floyd McCoury's 64-year-old voice keening high inside your car when you're driving through the middle of a Midwestern nowherescape at 83 miles an hour: "Bats come out / When the moon is in the sky / You hear a hoot owl in the distance / And you tremble inside". It's times like that that you think that maybe bluegrass is the most beautiful music ever made, and you're glad you have someone along for the ride. The man is simply a national treasure, case closed.


And wow, there is nothing more fun than hearing Del wail on "Let an Ole Racehorse Run," a slammin' little song about how even old guys need to cat around a little. And yeah, there is nothing more amazing than his band (with sons Ronnie and Rob) when it's truly cooking through "Asheville Turnaround" or Ronnie's insane instrumental "Hillcrest Drive." And hot dog if everything doesn't come together on numbers like Linda Gifford's "The Fire and the Flame" or the glad-I-found-her piece called "Same Kind of Crazy as Me."


You might not like bluegrass music; that's your right as an American. But I don't want to be your friend if you don't get goosebumps during "I Can Hear the Angels Singing," when the rest of the band stops singing and Del's voice flies high and free and a little bit crazy: "And I'll soon / Be singing with Him…" Hell, at that moment, there's no soon about it -- ol' Del McCoury IS singing with God, just for those few seconds.


Which is not to say that this is a perfect record. The song choice seems a little flabby in the middle ("Zero to Love" is a fun little song, but it feels like idling) and near the end of the record, where a couple downer tunes bring the bummer like no one's business. But if Mr. McCoury or his nimble-fingered sons and bandmates have lost any steps at all, even on these less-than-worthy songs, your ears and mine are not subtle enough to know about it. None of us are fit to stand in judgment of Del McCoury's voice.


I hope you like bluegrass music, because I want to like you; if you do, you already have this record, and if you're just getting into it, this record is essential. If you don't like bluegrass music, this might not be the place to start. Try getting a soul first, and then put "My Love Will Not Change" on and turn it up as loud as you can and drive as fast as you can. You'll understand then. 07-Oct-2003 10:30 PM