BR5-49's third album, "Coast to Coast," has only three original songs on it. And it wasn't recorded in a studio, but on the road last summer at tour stops in Phoenix, Indianapolis and Chautauqua, N.Y. But the saviors of commercial country weren't looking for an easy way to fulfill their record contract. The group is merely employing the smartest method to capture the sound and spirit of old-time country music -- by recording live.
It doesn't hurt that BR5-49 has chosen great songs like "Six Days on the Road" or Gram Parsons' "Big Mouth Blues." Or that the group so plainly loves to perform them. Not until the instrumental breaks on "Coast," with guitars trading off with fiddle and steel guitar, and Jay McDowell's upright bass thumping along with Shaw Wilson's playful, understated drumming, do you realize how little BR5-49 relies on cruise control.