THE DEL McCOURY BAND The Company We Keep (McCoury Music)

Unlike some bluegrass material I’ve heard recently – specifically Bryan Sutton’s album of instrumental duets “Not Too Far From The Tree” – “The Company We Keep” welcomes the curious novice listener with open arms. The fact that it’s stuffed with proper songs, with lyrics and everything, makes it far easier to locate “The Company We Keep” within, or at least adjacent to, the music you already enjoy. Added to this, McCoury Sr’s fiery, bouncy vocal delivery is a delight, utterly belying the fact that he’s older than Bob Dylan.

His band play honest music, utterly unpretentious despite the rich seam of fingerpicking dexterity that runs through it. Of particular note are the valedictory “She Can’t Burn Me Now”, kind of an Old Opry “I Will Survive”, and the triptych of homespun philosophy and good advices that stretches from “Fathers And Sons” through “When It Stops Hurtin’” to “Keep Her While She’s There”. The religious experience chronicled in “I Never Knew Life” might struggle to find a universal audience, though, and for all its charms and concessions, “The Company We Keep” remains a specialist product unlikely to ensnare the unconverted.