It's Just the Night

It's Just the Night

5.0 1
by Del McCoury

Not for nothing is the Del McCoury Band regarded as one of the most formidable aggregations in bluegrass, and every note on It's Just the Night proves this long-established truth. Picking up right where 2001's powerful Del and the Boys left off, this new album finds the incomparable quintet offering some lived-in lessons…  See more details below


Not for nothing is the Del McCoury Band regarded as one of the most formidable aggregations in bluegrass, and every note on It's Just the Night proves this long-established truth. Picking up right where 2001's powerful Del and the Boys left off, this new album finds the incomparable quintet offering some lived-in lessons on love and heartbreak, the working life, and the spiritual life. Again finding common ground with the eloquent British singer-songwriter Richard Thompson -- whose "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" was a highlight of Del and the Boys -- the band put their stamp on two more Thompson gems: a breakneck version of "Dry My Tears and Move On" and a keening take on "Two-Faced Love," with fiddler Jason Carter's wailing lines evoking the inner turmoil of which McCoury sings. The tight ensemble work driving "My Love Will Not Change" is the ideal backdrop for Del's solid, straightforward testifying, and the loping rhythm of "Zero to Love" gets the toes tapping as McCoury sings a beautiful melody and lyric telling of the wonder of sudden, unexpected, overwhelming true love. On a topical note, the ebullient pace of "Mill Town" stands in contrast to a cautionary tale concerning the drudgery and hopelessness of life in a paper mill, which Del delivers with a pamphleteer's urgency. The Fairfield Four lend deep, haunting harmonies to the somber title song, which limns some sinister goings-on in the wee small hours. All of which is balanced out by the lovely harmonizing on the spare gospel celebration "I Can Hear the Angels Singing." It sounds like real life through and through, and no one does real life better than the Del McCoury Band.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Zac Johnson
It had long been presumed that bluegrass patriarch Del McCoury could do no wrong. From his days with Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys through his work for Rebel Records in the '70s to his contemporary work with his sons in the Del McCoury Band, every release has had the same consistent attention to quality to match his crystalline high tenor and his bandmates' unparalleled musical skills. On the 2003 release It's Just the Night, something seems to have changed. The pickin' and a-singin' is still pretty strong, but the song selection seems to be uneven, and it almost feels like there's a lack of the usual passion in the performances. The solos lag where they should really rip (even the lightning fingers of Ronnie McCoury seem oddly distracted throughout much of the record), and the deep rich harmonies usually evident in the gospel numbers seem less dynamic than they have in the past. Even the packaging on the album seems to be a broad departure for the band: usually smartly dressed in a relaxed atmosphere, Del and the boys are now thrown into a psychedelic, computer-generated environment which might be more suited for a rave hosted by Tim Burton. All of these factors are disappointing, since Del McCoury albums have been an unflagging example of consistent quality in the contemporary bluegrass scene. Still, even when the band's not at its best, they're still pretty darned good. The opening track, "Dry My Tears and Move On," chugs along like a mountain freight train, and Ronnie's blistering instrumental "Hillcrest Drive" serves as the high point of the record. Unfortunately, the handful of sparks that the band throws off here and there don't match the beauty and intensity of their earlier releases.

Product Details

Release Date:
Mccoury Music


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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Del McCoury   Primary Artist
Fairfield Four   Guest Appearance
Isaac Freeman   Bass,Guest Appearance,Group Member
Wilson Waters   Tenor Saxophone,Guest Appearance,Group Member
Joe Rice   Tenor Saxophone,Guest Appearance,Group Member
Robert Hamlett   Guest Appearance,Group Member
J.D. Fizer   Baritone,Guest Appearance,Group Member

Technical Credits

Delbert McClinton   Composer
Del McCoury   Producer
Verlon Thompson   Composer
Richard Thompson   Composer
Mark Howard   Engineer
Don Reno   Composer
Shawn Camp   Composer
Austin Cunningham   Composer
Brent King   Engineer
Ronnie McCoury   Composer,Producer
Pat McInerney   Composer
Jeff Presley   Composer
Stan Strickland   Art Direction
Brad Rodgers   Composer
Rick Tiger   Composer
Gene Ellsworth   Composer
Erick Anderson   Art Direction
David Francey   Composer
Van Eaton   Composer
H.R. Cook   Composer

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It's Just the Night 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's hard to imagine that the Del McCoury Band, eight time winner of Bluegrass Entertainer of the Year, can continue to get better and better. Could it be that Del's 40+ years of experience make him one of the most skilled in the business? Could it be that his singing epitomizes the heart and soul of bluegrass music? Could it be that the band includes some of the best and engaging instrumentalists today? Could it be that the group navigated head-on into the new millenium with snappy material that is eclectic and tastefully rendered? The answers to all of the above are an undeniable "YES!" For those not familiar with Del, the North Carolina native began playing bluegrass at age 14. He's picked from The Virginia Playboys to Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, the Golden State Boys to the Shady Valley Boys, and The Dixie Pals in 1967 which renamed to the Del McCoury Band in 1987. This master of the bluegrass vocal style has always sang his heart out with a unique, signature flair. The perfect winning combination came about a decade ago when he united his veteran experience with the youthful energy of his two sons, Ron (mandolin) and Rob (banjo), along with Jason Carter (fiddle) and Mike Bub (bass). All of them are an award-winning musicians who are individually vituosic, yet also tuned into how to present a powerful and explosive highly-arranged ensemble sound. Finally, the Del McCoury Band's repertoire is compelling, and it succeeds with an emotional impact that makes listeners sit up and take notice of the strong images that are invoked. The band's signature sound is best described as bracing and novel, yet still respecting the sideboards of traditional presentation. I'd sure like to know more about their song selection process, and how they decide what songs to adapt to their bluegrass presentation. In keeping with a past winning formula, this project, their first on their own new McCoury Music label, opens and closes with two Richard Thompson love-gone-wrong pieces, "Dry My Tears and Move On," and "Two-Faced Love." And whoever would've thought that they'd cover Delbert McClinton and Gary Nicholson's "Same Kind of Crazy As Me," but why not? The song emphasizes the blues in bluegrass. Young country musician and excellent songwriter Shawn Camp co-penned the spirited "My Love Will Not Change" with Billy Burnett. Other numbers come from various other well-known Nashville musicians and songwriters like Austin Cunningham, Verlon Thompson, and Charley Stefl, and ones I know less about like Ron Smith, Linda Gifford, and H.R. Cook. All of us baby boomer bluegrassers should be able to relate to Smith's waltz-timed "Let An Old Racehorse Run," and Del's modulation to a higher key reinforces the message and shows that he still feels his oats too. A perfect song for Halloween, the slower title track appears a third into the album, and the Fairfield Four's spooky vocal fills contrast to Del's confident assurances. It's nice to see the band's solely instrumental barnburner, "Hillcrest Drive," come from the pen of their own Ronnie McCoury. And with a strong nod to tradition, Don Reno's "I Can Hear the Angels Singing," showcases the band's dynamic quartet. Solidly contemporary bluegrass in styling, but lacking something unique, is "I'm Afraid I Forgot the Feelin'" that comes from Dan Presley and his son, Jeff, guitarist with the Virginia-based bluegrass group, Shenandoah Blue. "Mill Towns" comes from David Francey, a Canadian folk singer and songwriter/storyteller, and it tells of many industrial towns' demise as residents moved elsewhere in search of work. Lyrics for all songs are included, but it's interesting that we never find the band members credited within the album jacket. The entire record gives us an inspired musical journey from some entertaining bluegrassers with adventurous tastes. You couldn't ask for much bett