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Music Review - 'Burnt the Sawmill Down' The Caleb Daugherty Band (dm)

The Caleb Daugherty Band - Burnt the Sawmill Down

9 June 2019



“Burnt the Sawmill Down,” the new collection of cover songs, save for one original, from The Caleb Daugherty Band is a seductive and soulful journey into the spiritual emporium of authentic country and bluegrass. Daugherty, on guitar and lead vocals, along with his deft band, and the enchanting guest vocalist Rhonda Vincent, make for powerful docents into the beautiful world of heartache, down on luck dreams, and rambling, roving hope set to plaintive fiddles, deep dobro, and intricate acoustic guitar picking.

The skillful curation of the record only enhances its pleasures. Daugherty leads his fine band through an assortment of country classics, the highlight of which is the title track, a previously undiscovered gem from the late Keith Whitley’s songbook. A tale of small-town lament finds poignant and aching delivery from The Caleb Daugherty Band. They bring the considerable craft to their selection of songs, but never outplay their hearts. There is plenty of room for all of these songs live and breath in the space of the soul. From the duet with Vincent, “Going Through the Motions” – a sad song about country dreamers who continue to live as if fame and fortune are right around the corner of the next saloon, when in their hearts they realize that hope is lost, to “Ain’t Coming Back” – a joyful song celebrating the liberation of the open road, Daugherty and company dance along the emotional edge, enabling to the listener to access those same feelings.

The only miss is a softened cover of “This Time,” the old hit from Waylon Jennings. Without Jennings’ muscular voice, and without the jagged edge of outlaw country, “This Time” loses its essence of bitter defiance.

A true indication of the enjoyment of “Burnt the Sawmill Down,” however, is that at a total running time of 30 minutes, it feels painfully short. Its conclusion immediately invites revisitation, starting with the opening note.


 David Masciotra



David Masciotra ( is the author of four books, including Barack Obama: Invisible Man (Eyewear Publishing, 2017) and Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky, 2015).

To read all of David's reviews, click here 





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