James Alan Shelton | Walking Down The Line

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Walking Down The Line

by James Alan Shelton

Tasteful and clean, melody oriented flatpicking bluegrass guitar by this 13 year veteran as lead guitarist for Grammy Award winning Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys.
Genre: Country: Bluegrass
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Soldier's Joy
2:20 $0.99
2. Fair and Tender Ladies
2:54 $0.99
3. Walking Down the Line
1:53 $0.99
4. Salt Creek
2:48 $0.99
5. Nashville Blues
2:49 $0.99
6. Old Toy Trains
2:01 $0.99
7. Motherless Children
2:52 $0.99
8. Methodist Preacher
2:28 $0.99
9. Stephen
3:03 $0.99
10. Hard Times Come Again No More
3:03 $0.99
11. My Grandfather's Clock
2:43 $0.99
12. Fireball Mail
3:06 $0.99
13. Sounds of Silence
2:53 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Nashville (May 20, 2007) - James Alan Shelton, the veteran lead guitarist for Ralph Stanley’s Grammy-winning Clinch Mountain Boys band, will debut Walking Down The Line, his ninth solo album May 22.

Walking Down The Line, on Sheltone Records, is a collection of folk, bluegrass, and country classics that finds Shelton mixing it up with some of most renowned musicians in the business.

Included in this all-star lineup are bassist Barry Bales of Alison Krauss’s Union Station band and mandolinist Adam Steffey, a Union Station alumnus now with Mountain Heart; acclaimed gospel and bluegrass vocalist Judy Marshall; banjo wizard Steve Sparkman and fiddler Dewey Brown, both of the Clinch Mountain Boys; rhythm guitarist and mandolin-maker Audey Ratliff; and traditional-style banjoist Daniel Grindstaff, of Jesse McReynolds’ Virginia Boys. It is a pickers Paradise.

“I’ve chosen songs that represent a specific place and time in my own development as a musician,” Shelton explains. “I feel that good music is good music whatever the source.”

Shelton’s choices and executions are dazzling. The album’s title song is a Bob Dylan composition that has become much beloved in bluegrass circles. Then there are the hallowed folk tunes and parlor ballads that everybody knows (by sound if not always by title)—“Soldier’s Joy,” “Fair And Tender Ladies,” “Salt Creek” and “My Grandfather’s Clock.” Here also is Stephen Foster’s wistful mid-19th century lament, “Hard Times Come Again No More.”

Shelton dips into the Carter Family, Bill Monroe and Roy Acuff archives, respectively, for “Motherless Children,” “Methodist Preacher” and “Fireball Mail.” Moving forward on the calendar, he covers Roger Miller’s tenderly paternal “Old Toy Trains”; “Nashville Blues,” from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s epochal Will The Circle Be Unbroken album; and Simon & Garfunkel’s majestically forlorn “Sounds Of Silence.” Rounding out this treasury is the Tony Ellis homage, “Stephen,” on which Shelton plays both lead guitar and banjo. In this age of rapid fire machine gun-like guitar players, Shelton’s melody oriented style of playing is a breath of fresh air.

Enhancing the value of this album are the Shelton-penned liner notes, which describe the backgrounds of the songs and players in rich and personal detail.

Norma Morris
Morris Public Relations
P. O. Box 210588
Nashville, TN 37221-0588
Phone: 615-952-9250
Email: norma@morrispr.biz



to write a review

William Mahlburg

Walking Down The Line
I generally like hard driving bluegrass and this album pushes some of those buttons, but also has some other very likable qualities. Enjoyed the selection of songs and nice picking. Vocals are unpretentious and not overproduced.

Dennis R Davenport

Walking Down The Line
The CD would be worth it if it only had the two songs "Fair and Tender Ladies" and Sounds of Silence. Beautiful picking.

Joe Ross

Warm music without any pompous or showy airs
Playing Time – 34:53 -- James Alan Shelton’s ninth solo album (and another on his own Sheltone Records label after release of his gospel compilation, “Gospel Guitar” SR-1960) is one that pays tribute to a variety of bluegrass, country and folk inspirations in his life. The experienced lead guitarist for Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys takes us on wild and thrilling rides with “Soldier’s Joy” and “Salt Creek” as Steve Sparkman’s banjo is played in Ralph’s mountainous style. Some of Shelton’s other key influences are an eclectic list that includes Bill Monroe, Carter Family, Osborne Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs, Country Gentlemen, Clarence White, Randy Scruggs, Roger Miller, Tony Ellis, Stephen Foster, Bob Dylan, and Simon & Garfunkel. Shelton’s my kind of musician because his individualism emphasizes variety. I found it surprising that “Walking Down The Line” is the first album to ever feature his singing. Besides the title cut, he chooses “Motherless Children” and “Hard Times Come No More” to showcase his pleasant, affable baritone vocal talents. He’s not high and lonesome, an American Idol singer, and some bluegrass deejays will no doubt accuse him of sounding like a folkie trapped in a bluegrass shop when he sings. However, those same deejays should acknowledge that an eclectic set like Shelton’s still has plenty to enthuse bluegrass fans. Those same fans also appreciate unpretentious, modest lead vocals in the lower range. Dewey Brown sings tenor on the three vocal numbers, and Judy Marshall provides harmony vocals on two of them.

The formidable picking on “Walking Down The Line” is the result of some fine melodic mettle from the likes of Adam Steffey (mandolin), Steve Sparkman (banjo), Dewey Brown (fiddle), Audey Ratliff (rhythm guitar), and Daniel Grindstaff (banjo), and Barry Bales (bass). Besides lead guitar on all the tracks, James Alan Shelton also dubbed in the banjo track on “Stephen,” and down-to-earth and unassuming old-time flavored tune by Tony Ellis that never sounds anachronistic. James Alan Shelton presents his warm music without any pompous or showy airs. These are the kinds of songs that have made James what he is today as a well-rounded musician. While there’s not much new here, his repertoire emphasizes much-loved pieces that we have fond places for in our hearts. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)