In the Light
Tyler Grant's name has been popping up everywhere in the acoustic music scene over the past few years. His new CD 'In the Light' shows why. In 2003 he joined Adrienne Young's band and toured with her for a year and a half. He also recorded with her on her acclaimed CDs Plow the End of the Row and The Art of Virtue. In 2004 he hooked up with Casey and Chris Henry and the Two-Stringers. He still performs with that group and is on their newly released CD Get Along Girl. In the fall of 2004 he also toured China for ten days with Casey Driessen (fiddle), Amanda Kowalski (bass), and Abigail Washburn (old-time banjo) as part of a musical cultural exchange. During the first half of 2005 he also toured with Canadian fiddler April Verch. Most recently (November 2005) Tyler joined the Drew Emmett Band and is currently on tour with that group. He will be performing with that band this year at Telluride, High Sierra, Four Corners Folk Festival, Floyd Fest, Harvest Fest, and others. Although he is more of a band player than a contest performer, Tyler won the Rockygrass guitar contest in 2003, won the Henderson festival contest in 2005, and placed second at the National Flatpicking Championship in Winfield, Kansas, in 2005. Tyler has just released his own solo CD 'In the Light' on FGM Records. Nine of the thirteen tracks on Tyler's CD are original (seven vocal and two instrumental). The other four tracks consist of three traditional instrumental tunes and one traditional vocal song. Tyler started laying down tracks for this project in September of 2005. During the first session the group that he assembled to record with him cut five tracks. This group included Amanda Kowalski on bass, Casey Driessen on fiddle, Andy Hall on Dobro, Scott Vestal on banjo and Chris Henry on mandolin. Pat Enright added tenor vocals. During the second session Tyler gathered the same group together, with the exception of bringing in both Missy Raines and Mike Bub to play bass and having Chris Pandolfi come in to play banjo. Steven Sandifer also added the snare drum in the second session. For both session Tyler wanted to try and achieve a sound that would resemble a group of picking buddies all in one room playing together. He said, 'I didn't want it to sound too sterile.' The CD starts with a traditional vocal tune, 'Good Morning Mister Railroad Man' followed by a Bill Monroe instrumental, 'Lochwood.' These first two tunes give the CD a strong high-energy kick off. Tyler's guitar work on both of these cuts is strong, solid, interesting and tasteful. The third tune, an original vocal number titled 'Anglea' has a bit of Cajun pulse to it and feels like an acoustic version of a country song. About this CD, Tyler has said that he really did not set out to make a bluegrass recording. He said, 'I wanted to record the sounds that I've been hearing that really didn't fit into the context of any of the bands that I've been playing in. I wanted it to reflect my own style.' 'Angela' and the next tune, a romping instrumental called 'Naked Guitar' would be two of the tunes that have that Tyler Grant stamp on it. And it is great stuff! The next tune on the CD, 'Solitary Man' is another Tyler Grant original, but goes back to a more traditional bluegrass feel and sound. Cut six, 'Half Past Four' is a traditional old-timey number and Tyler's guitar work on this cut is reminiscent of David Grier's work on his Hootenanny project. This is one of the tunes that Tyler has transcribed for us for this issue. You can hear this cut on the audio CD companion for this issue. Cut seven is a bluegrass barnburner written by Tyler called 'Goin' Back to California.' This is one of the most exciting tunes on the recording and on his solo Tyler proves that he can handle that bluegrass fast tempo thing! Things slow down a bit on the next cut, another Grant original called 'Come On Up the Mountain.' This tune would fall comfortably into the folk singer/songwriter genre, or maybe the classic Seldom Scene style, which Tyler said inspired this sound for him. The next tune 'Azalea' is an instrumental that stays at a nice slow tempo and clearly demonstrates that Tyler knows how to play a slow groove guitar solo that is full of feeling and emotion. This is one of my favorite cuts on the CD. For cut ten, another Grant-penned tune called 'Cycles: The Truth About Change', the pace comes back up a bit, but not to bluegrass tempos. This is another nice singer-songwriter style tune expertly executed by top-notch musicians. This is my favorite of the vocal cuts. While all of the musicians on this recording do a great job, the guitar, fiddle, and Dobro work really stand out here. Cut eleven, Tyler's 'Far Away From There' fits the same style as the last one, a very nice singer-songwriter style tune with great instrumental accompaniment. On cut twelve Tyler pulls out a great flatpicking fiddle tune, 'Grey Eagle.' He also transcribed this tune for our readers to learn in this issue and we have included the cut on our audio CD companion. While I would not say that the two tunes that are presented in this issue are reflective of the whole record, we felt like readers of this magazine would gain the most benefit from learning these tunes. While my favorite instrumental tune on this recording is 'Azalea,' I doubt that this would be a tune that you would be playing at your next jam session. 'Grey Eagle' is more likely going to be something that you would be called onto play at a jam, so that is why we have included it here. The final tune on Tyler's CD is the title cut 'In the Light' another nice singer-songwriter style number. All in all, Tyler's CD showcases his many talents. Although the music does not completely stay in one genre of acoustic music, there is a commonality to all of the tunes that ties them together in a very nice and listenable way. The CD definitely demonstrates why Tyler Grant has made a big splash in the bluegrass and flatpicking community in Nashville, and beyond, over the last three years. And we will undoubtedly be hearing a lot more from Tyler Grant in the future.