Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Split Lip Rayfield, the quirky bluegrass trio from Wichita, Kansas has been together for about 20 years now. On My Way is their first studio album in over eight years. Understandable, considering the tragic loss of Kirk Rundstrom in 2007. Rundstrom was one of the group’s founding members. The band made a decision to continue after Rundstrom’s untimely death. I cannot imagine the bittersweet emotions that the surviving members have been holding onto for the past nine years or so. Luckily for us, they decided to release a follow up to 2008’s I’ll Be Around.
The energy and creativity are still there and On My Way is one fine release. This is labeled as bluegrass but it has the punk in your face sound that differentiates this release from your traditional bluegrass music. These guys are great harmonizers and musicians, but they play fast and furious. They also play in a very unorthodox way, atypical of other bluegrass outfits. It is a breath of fresh air and a shot in the arm to bluegrass. Experimental bluegrass in the vein of Freakwater and the defunct Bad Livers.
I am not a huge fan of traditional bluegrass. I find it to be a little on the dull side. So thank goodness for Split Lip Rayfield who are able to turn bluegrass on its ear a little. The songs on On My Way are anything but dull. There are extremely easy to listen to and leave you longing for more. Songs like That’s My Girl, All Alone, I Don’t Need A Gun, and All Fucked Up, among others are really infectious and habit forming. Start your own habit and give Split Lip Rayfield a try.
Picked up ‘On My Way’ at the CD release show in St. Louis on 2/4/17, so glad SLR is continuing to add to their catalog. Songs from the new album have found their way into set lists for a while now and it’s great to have them in my playlists finally. Everything on the album will find its way into the hearts of fans and new listeners alike. Several of the tunes stay locked in my head for days with ‘Lake’ and ‘Two Eyes Shining’ taking up permanent residence. And if Split Lip comes to your town, county, state, region, make sure to catch them live, you won’t find many bands with their power and musicianship, their shows are generally a high energy party and sing-a-long!