Fresh off the success of their first album, and taking first place in Rockygrass’ Best New Band Competition, Colorado natives, The Railsplitters got busy touring the US, meeting wider audiences, and of course, spending hours in the tour van! As you can imagine from five members traveling across the United States, the musical array pouring out of the van onto the open highway was wildly eclectic, crossing over genre and time. From boundary breaking trip hop and electronica groups like Gorillaz and Thievery Corporation, to more direct influences like The Infamous Stringdusters and Lake Street Dive, the musical potpourri heard in their time on the road eventually began to seep into the band’s own music. With their new album, The Faster It Goes, they’re using these new sounds to break the bonds of bluegrass and unleash tradition. Lauren Stovall and the rest of the ‘Splitters suggest that using your roots to evolve is really at the heart of the genre, not unlike Bill Monroe, who himself was an innovator. With their finger on the pulse, The Railsplitters are pushing the genre forward with an adventurous spirit, carrying in the tradition of breaking boundaries with their innovative sound.
The Railsplitters’ secret weapon is two-fold: first, the innovative imagination of banjo player Dusty Rider’s songwriting, who writes with the full band in mind, imagining an entire song in his head before it’s even heard it out loud. Second, the powerfully distinct vocals of Lauren Stovall whose voice is as clean as Emmylou, as cutting as Allison Krauss, and carrying some of the attitude of Dolly herself. Lauren’s vocal lines fill The Railsplitters’ sound with something distinct and undeniable. In addition, part of The Railsplitters’ new color is brought on by the band’s newest member, Joe D'Esposito, whose New England-influenced fiddling adds new directions to the band’s sound. With masterfully executed mandolin and banjo by Peter Sharpe and Dusty Rider, and well supported by upright bassist Leslie Ziegler’s innovative style, The Faster It Goes testifies to The Railsplitters’ multipolar and collaborative songwriting, giving voice to the impressive talents of its members and a cohesive character to the sound.
From the first track, “Tilt-A-Whirl,” it’s clear the The Faster It Goes is exploring modern speeds: “My mind is like an old Tilt-A-Whirl, it never seems to stop, not even for this girl.” With the foot-stomping drive of a reworked traditional tune like, “Salt Salt Sea,” or the complex harmony and aggressive rhythms in “It’s A Little Late,” The Railsplitters are trying to keep up with life, the faster, and faster it goes. While these songs pack an edge and highlight the band’s progression into more pop-influenced numbers, The Railsplitters know that life isn’t only lived in the fast lane, taking a few moments to unwind with earthy tracks like “The Estuary,” which pays tribute to their musical mountain roots, and the album’s hidden track, “Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes.”
Though they operate with the instrumentation of a bluegrass band, The Railsplitters are making music totally unlimited by tradition. This is music for the open road, the open dance floor, and open ears--music of the American West, made for all.
-Mindie Lind, Hearth Music