This week I’m featuring a CD I like a lot by James Alan Shelton. The CD is entitled Song for Greta. James Alan Shelton is the longtime lead guitarist in Dr. Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys and Song for Greta is an outstanding side project he released.
Song for Greta features fellow Clinch Mountain Boys, with Steve Sparkman (banjo) and Ralph Stanley II (rhythm guitar and vocals). The album also features former Clinch Mountain Boy James Price on fiddle. John Rigsby is featured on mandolin. There are also some great guest appearances, like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.
The album is mostly instrumental, featuring a nice mix of beautiful and upbeat numbers. Especially beautiful songs include the title track Song for Greta (dedicated to James Alan Shelton’s wife) and Bill Monroe’s The Sunset Trail.
There are a few vocal numbers included on Song for Greta. Ralph Stanley II does a fine job on the upbeat Long Journey Home. A standout track is Fifty Miles of Elbow Room, recorded with Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings.
At first, I thought surely James Alan Shelton must play a Martin guitar… with it’s full, rich sound. It turns out that James Alan Shelton plays a Huss & Dalton guitar. I think it sounds great!
Overall, I love the beautifully done songs featuring guitar. I think of this album in the same category as Kenny Baker’s Spider Bit the Baby… a wonderfully done project from a longtime sideman with loads of talent. Like Baker, James Alan Shelton doesn’t show off with ridiculous, nonstop runs; he never forgets the melody and gives listeners something to treasure… pure, perfect, beautiful music.