Although he’s a favorite of many country music fans – especially those who love bluegrass – Dan Tyminski is probably better known to the general public as the Grammy-winning singing voice behind a famous face, that of movie star George Clooney. Because of that, Tyminski’s second album as a soloist, Wheels, due out in June on the Rounder Records label, might get some added attention from folks who remember the 2000 film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
That movie – the Coen Brothers’ Depression-era comedic take on The Odyssey – featured Clooney’s character, Ulysses Everett McGill, singing lead in The Soggy Bottom Boys’ rendition of “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow.” Of course, that was actually Tyminski doing the vocal but the video of that song seemed to be everywhere for a while, and along with the soundtrack album it helped jump-start a revival in popularity for the era’s music. Tyminski’s new album is evocative of that rich musical heritage, while providing a number of new pieces too.
To help do justice to the music, he’s enlisted some friends from his long-time service with Alison Krauss and Union Station, along with a few fresh faces too. It’s an outstanding group, one that includes Ron Block on banjo, bassist Barry Bales, fiddler Justin Moses, and Adam Steffey on Dobro. There are also some special guests — superstar Vince Gill for one.
The twelve tracks on the album provide something to please everybody, with some first-class traditional bluegrass tunes and some slower pieces too. Among the latter were the mournful “How Long Is This Train,” and “Who Showed Who,” a tasty story-song previously known for Del McCoury’s version, but handled just fine by Tyminski.
Not surprisingly, there are a number of banjo-laden tunes that would fit perfectly into any bluegrass lover’s collection, including “I Ain’t Taking You Back No More,” and “How Many Times,” a new song written by Tyminski. There are also a few with a country-bluesy sound and feel, for example “Making Hay,” and “Heads You Win Tails I Lose.” On the other hand, if your preference is sheer speed and pickin’ prowess, try the instrumental “Knock, Knock.” Pure fun, but too short!
Good stuff from Tyminski and his group — highly recommended.