Album Review of
The Next Mountain

Written by Joe Ross
November 22, 2021 - 4:38pm EST
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Rick Faris began playing music professionally at age seven (in 1998) with his Kansas-based family band The Faris Family. From 2009-2021, he performed with Special Consensus. In 2019, Faris released his very well received first solo album, Breaking in Lonesome, on the Dark Shadow label. Now pursuing a solo music career, Faris has assembled both a core band and plenty of stellar sidemen for his sophomore project, The Next Mountain. The  album’s core group is Laura Orshaw (fiddle), Harry Clark (mandolin), Russ Carson (banjo) and Zak McLamb (bass). Rick’s brother, Eddie, sings baritone harmony on five tracks. Some of the 12 tracks also feature appearances by special guests Justin Moses, Shawn Lane, Sam Bush, Ronnie Bowman, Becky Buller, Ronnie McCoury and others.

When not building guitars (The Faris Guitar Co.), Rick plays them with vengeance and expression. "Dust on the Royal" is a feisty instrumental that gives each of the five key players a chance to demonstrate their dexterity and fluid picking. A multi-instrumentalist, Rick also plays some Dobro on the spiritually-infused track, “Can’t Build a Bridge to Glory.” I’m surprised he didn’t track some of his own mandolin picking, as he played that instrument for about six years with Special Consensus. He also writes poignant songs, with evocative messages, occasionally penning them with collaborators such as Rick Lang, Mark “Brink” Brinkman, and Becky Buller. With emotional vocalizing of breathtaking ability, Rick Faris shows a penchant for spirited tempos that give his lively songs plenty of energy, drive and momentum.

Already appearing on The Roots Music Report’s Top 50 Bluegrass Album Chart, we can expect Rick Faris’ radio-friendly repertoire to receive considerable airplay with stand-out tracks like "What I've Learned,"  "Deep River," "Hoot Owl Call," “Time to Move On,” "See You on the Other Side” and “Moonshine Song.” Interpreting his own lyrics in a song of loneliness, “Tall Fall” establishes a more melancholy musical mood. For another sweet change of pace, “I’m Asking You Today” is a snappy western swing offering, and I wouldn’t even mind hearing Rick Faris put out a whole album of that kind of material too. With a slight increase in the size of their liner notes, The Next Mountain would’ve been close to contemporary bluegrass album perfection.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)