Flatt Lonesome: Media Love
When Game of Thrones returns to HBO on April 24th, it’ll begin as it always does: with a rumble of percussion, a sweeping of strings and the unfolding of a now-iconic theme song that’s been kicking off the series’ episodes for five years.
Although rooted in medieval folk music, the title theme recently received a facelift from Flatt Lonesome, a Tennessee-based family band of bluegrass pickers and harmony singers. With Flatt Lonesome at the helm, the Game of Thrones theme becomes something different: a fretwork-heavy burst of mandolin, fiddle, upright bass and acoustic guitars, evoking not the grandeur of Westeros as much as the earthy charm of the American South.
Let’s cut right to the heart of the matter: Flatt Lonesome’s Runaway Train is one of the best CDs I’ve heard this year.
Not just the band, which is tight, or the songs, which are stout. Nearly everything about this record is top-notch, making it a roadmap for bands looking to make a CD that will please existing fans and make new ones.
The band has been hitting its stride in recent years, getting stronger and more confident with each project, so I expected this CD to be good. But not this good.
Why are they so good? They’ve matured, growing from a bunch of kids in a family band to young adults and veteran performers, selected as the IBMA 2014 emerging artist of the year. They pick good material and are talented musicians and singers. They are as good on stage as they are on a recording, fairly common in bluegrass music (not always the case in other genres, with electronic gadgetry a hidden band member), and also as showmen, which isn’t common enough in bluegrass.
While most young players on the scene import jazz and rock influences—creating a style called Newgrass—this band doubles down squarely on the classic elements of the music for its newest album. But it avoids feeling stuck in the past. Boasting masterful musicianship, sizzling vocals, and a hard-charging passion, Flatt Lonesome’s Too makes the powerful and surprising case that bluegrass is for today.
Flatt Lonesome is a young, new group of pickers fresh to the scene. While deeply-rooted in bluegrass music’s historic classics, they also have an energetic flair for country sounds, progressive jams, and soul-stirring gospel music while never forsaking their traditional essence.
Released last week, Too proves that the rising band from Florida is going to avoid a sophomore slump. “So Far” kicks off the record and showcases the band’s musical strength while “Make It Through The Day” proves they could have some mainstream country success if they wanted to head that direction as the powerful ballad recalls some of Sara Evans’ finer vocal moments.