The Earls of Leicester, the award-winning, critically acclaimed sextet founded by 14-time Grammy winner Jerry Douglas, has released its sophomore album Rattle & Roar. The album follows the band's eponymous 2014 debut, which won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album and scored four International Bluegrass Music Association Awards for Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year, Instrumental Group of the Year, and Gospel Recorded Performance.
In addition to Douglas, the band features some of bluegrass & country's finest musicians, including singer and guitarist Shawn Camp, bassist Barry Bales, fiddler Johnny Warren, banjo player Charlie Cushman, and mandolinist Jeff White.
Like its predecessor, Rattle & Roar features songs originally recorded by bluegrass giants Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, and includes some classics ("Why Did You Wander," "The Train that Carried My Girl From Town," All I Want Is You,") as well as some lesser-known chestnuts, like "Steel Guitar Blues," and "Pray for the Boys."
Writing in culture blog Austin 360, Austin American Statesman critic Joe Gross proclaimed the Earls "bluegrass ninjas," while No Depression's Lee Zimmerman praises the Earls' "wholly unassuming blend of authentic down home mountain music, traditional bluegrass, and the solemn sounds of gospel stirred with reverence and authenticity," and concludes "all praise is due these Earls. Long may they rule."
All Music's Mark Deming writes, "As anyone would expect, the performances on Rattle & Roar are splendid, and the musicians -- Douglas, Johnny Warren on fiddle, Charlie Cushman on banjo, Shawn Camp on guitar and lead vocals, Jeff White on mandolin ,and Barry Bales on upright bass -- sound even tighter and more joyously emphatic than they did before."
Fervor Coulee's Donald Teplyske calls the album "outstanding," and observes that the Earls "not only recreate but reinvigorate the songs of the (in the opinion of many) preeminent bluegrass band, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs & the Foggy Mountain Boys."
Parcbench's Greg Victor writes, "They more than live up to the Flatt & Scruggs legacy, particularly Shawn Camp's relaxed vocals. They are playing these songs they love with the kind of perfected, reckless abandon that the Flatt & Scruggs legacy deserves. Quite a tribute." Victor closes by advising readers,"If you're in a Grammy Award pool in the future, count on this album to take the Best Bluegrass Grammy."
The Earls of Leicester are on tour now.