Album Review of
Roadsigns and Highways

Written by Joe Ross
October 8, 2019 - 2:26pm EDT
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There are many people pulling for this up-and-coming bluegrass band that takes its name from a North Carolina community where the founding members first met. During 2019, their showcase appearances were well received at the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA) and International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) conventions. In 2017, they released their first album on the Rural Rhythm label called “Playing Hard To Forget.”  Picked up by the Mountain Fever label, their 2018 album was “No Escape.” This latest project, “Road Signs & Highways,” features two of the band’s original members (guitarist Jacob Greer, mandolinist Zack Arnold) along with 2019 additions Jason Davis (banjo), Kameron Keller (bass) and Jamie Harper (fiddler). It’s a strong lineup of younger guys who seem ready to take their music to the next step. 

Claybank offers an exuberant, contemporary style of bluegrass. They have drive and intensity without straying too far from traditional norms for the genre. Their instrumental chops are solid without being too flashy. Their repertoire draws from both original material (“Road Signs & Highways”), as well as that from contemporary songwriters like Kyle Burnette (“Emma”), Shannon Slaughter (“Dreamer”), Kevin McKinnon (“I Robbed A Train”), Tyler Thompson (“Tennessee Gypsy”) and  Daniel Salyer (“That’s The Difference Between Me and You”).  Bill Castle’s “Needed More Soldiers To Carry The Cross” is an evocative gospel number. Greer and Arnold ably handle most of the lead singing, while Jamie Harper sings lead on the album closer, “Back to Dixie.”  The band seems serious about taking their music as far as they can. As Claybank travels to festivals and their music hits the airwaves, they’ll hopefully further define their own signature sound and distinguish themselves from other similar groups. I’ll be pulling for them as they continue on their musical journey to bluegrass stardom. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)