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"Royal Traveller" Album Review

"Royal Traveller" Album Review

Award-winning bassist Missy Raines is here to tell the world that she is much more than a renowned instrumentalist, but a strong vocalist and songwriter as seen on her newest album, Royal Traveller.

The album features an eclectic collection of songs that reflect an intimate side of Missy’s life, touching on her upbringing in West Virginia and the challenges of becoming a professional musician. Royal Traveller highlights Missy’s full range of musicality while reverting back to the traditional tones of bluegrass music.

The album kicks off in a delightful fashion with the track Allegheny Town which showcases Missy on lead vocals, David Benedict on mandolin, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, and Alison Brown on banjo. The song provides clean instrumental breaks and well rounded harmonies as it sets the tone for what’s to come.

The next highlight of the album is an exceptional cover of singer, songwriter, Bonnie Raitt’s Fearless Love. This tune is especially special as it features master musician Tim O’Brien on lead and harmony vocals and highly sought-after session musician Dan Dugmore on lap steel guitar.

The first single to surface from the Royal Traveller album, was a cover of Laurie Lewis’ iconic song, Swept Away. Nominated by the International Bluegrass Music Association for both ‘Song of the Year’ and ‘Recorded Event of the Year’ Awards, this number revisits many facets of Missy’s roots deeply embedded in bluegrass. There is a centralized theme that highlights the powerful moment Missy won Bass Player of the Year Award in 1998, and features the First Ladies of Bluegrass - all five women who were the first to win IBMA Instrumentalist of the Year Awards on their respective instruments including: Alison Brown (banjo), Becky Buller (fiddle), Sierra Hull (mandolin), and Molly Tuttle (guitar). The song also is one of the first that reverts back to that traditional bluegrass sound, revisiting beautiful breaks, harmonies, and ancient tones.

We begin to see a shift in the album as we arrive at the title track, Royal Traveller, highlighting Missy’s countless years of diligence and commitment to make music a full time career. The name of the title track came to her organically as it fit the centralized theme of her album. Some years ago, she bought a vintage train case from a local thrift store. The case itself was a rich turquoise blue, and when she opened it for the first time it smelled like the perfume her mom used to wear when she was a little girl. That suitcase became a staple in her travels, accompanying her on the road as it held a special place in her heart.

One morning when she was getting ready to drive to a gig in her home state of West Virginia, she was informed of a heavy snowstorm that was due to hit the day. She began to worry; concerned about travel conditions, getting stuck in the middle of nowhere, and wondering if she would make it to her show on time. Her thoughts began to slowly spiral, dipping into feelings of doubt and uncertainty. It was early, and Missy was loading the car on her own when she grabbed the vintage train suitcase and caught a glimpse of the words engraved on the handle - Royal Traveller.

“Up until this point, I never really looked at the handle. It stopped me dead in my tracks and hit me in that moment - I am a royal traveller. Just getting through a day can be considered “royal”. I spent the drive with all of these images floating through my brain touching on where I came from, what religion I was brought up on, and even questions about that part of my life that I rebelled.”

To Missy, these words had a powerful sense of meaning. The poetic beauty and deeply seeded irony behind what it truly meant to be a “royal traveller”; touring miles across state lines, staying at motels and eating on the road, late nights and early mornings just to pour your heart and soul out for your listeners and a dime.

Co-writer, Ed Snodderly, is featured on the track with the addition of acoustic guitar and harmony vocals. There are honest and powerful references presenting the hardships that musicians have endured and have to overcome to succeed in the industry.

One of the most noteworthy features about Missy’s album is her choice of musical covers. Kate Campbell’s - Free World, Ola Belle & David Reed’s - I’ve Endured, made famous in recordings by Del McCoury, as well as Tim O’Brien, are both given memorable re-workings.

Under A Dark Sky and To Here From There are two co-compositions that further emphasize Missy’s innovation and musical eclecticism. Goodbye Virginia, written by touring pal Robbie Fulks, features lead and harmony vocals from Trent Wagler. With other guests on the album including 10 String Symphony, Claire Lynch, Amy Ray, Ethan Ballinger and Bryan McDowell, Raines has assembled an all-star lineup who talents permeate throughout the track.

The final track of the album is one of the most memorable in terms of iconic bass and banjo covers. A.P. Carter’s Darlin’ Pal(s) of Mine, made popular by Earl Scruggs (banjo) and Jake Tullock (bass) duet version, is the only instrumental track on the album. What puts this track above the rest are the appearances of leading bass icons Mike Bub and Todd Phillips who join Missy to trade solos.

“My producer, gal pal, and favorite banjo player, Alison Brown, had the brilliant idea of bringing bass legends, Mike Bub and Todd Phillips, to create the ‘6 hands, 1 bass’ take on this classic Earl Scruggs and Jake Tullock duet. We had so much fun with the choreography on this one, we are truly dancing with the bass!”

Missy Raine’s new album, Royal Traveller, has it all: honest writing, phenomenal songs, top shelf production, and wonderful appearances from iconic musicians throughout the industry. We would highly recommend to any bluegrass fan to give this album a good listen and see what all the buzz is all about. For those who are not the biggest bluegrass fans, consider giving this album a fair shot and an honest listen. There is enough musical variety found in the lyrics and structure of each song so that there is a little something for all listeners to enjoy.

You can find Missy Raines new record Royal Traveller available on her website and multiple streaming platforms. Check out her music videos for the songs Allegheny Town, Swept Away, and Darlin' Pal(s) of Mine in a new department called "Missy Music Videos" found in your +Music. Lastly, take a look at Missy's tour schedule and try to catch a show in a city or festival near you by visiting her website at: www.missyraines.com.

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