Album Review: Joe Diffie - "Homecoming: The Bluegrass Album"

Released in 2010, "Homecoming: The Bluegrass Album" was his return to his youthful roots after his days as a country radio hitmaker were over. Sadly, it would prove to be the final all-new album released in his lifetime.

Joe Diffie’s bluegrass album is not just another collection of traditional bluegrass songs, but one also released on the explicitly roots-centric Rounder Records. With its strong songs and Diffie’s equally strong vocals, it’s one can’t-go-wrong effort. For this project, Diffie surrounded himself with some of the very best players and singers. Bryan Sutton plays acoustic guitar on it, and Aubrey Haynie is its fiddler. A few of the backing vocalists include Sonya Isaacs and Rhonda Vincent. Many of these songs are also relatively current, with Shawn Camp contributing to many of them, as well as Diffie writing on a couple.

A few of the release’s notable tracks include “Rainin’ On Her Rubber Dolly,” which features contemporary bluegrass act, The Grascals, and a completely bluegrass reimagining of “Hard To Handle,” which was written – in part -- and originated by Otis Redding, and most recently revived by The Black Crows. It’s just as cool, though, with mandolin, acoustic guitar and fiddle, here.

For many country artists to record a bluegrass album, such an effort would involve moving outside their comfort zone. Not so with Diffie, though, who sounds quite at home on Homecoming: The Bluegrass Album.