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John Driskell Hopkins & Balsam Range
“Songs of the South”
Stepping away from an incredibly successful band to release original solo material is no simple task. John Driskell Hopkins, a founding member of the Zac Brown Band, makes it look easy. On Daylight, he branched away from Nashville toward the hills of North Carolina to collaborate with the award-winning bluegrass band Balsam Range. Hopkins’ vocals complement the use of fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and Dobro played by BR to produce a Southern sound that is truly alive.
The deep tone of Hopkins’ vocals have the ability to convey edge and grit in songs such as “The Devil Lives in a Mason Jar” and can then transition to a smooth easiness on tracks like “Be My Girl.” The original lyrics are consistently honest, at times tongue-in-cheek, and at other times thoughtful. Telling of life as a musician and of family and love, noteworthy collaborations include “How Could I?” with Levi Lowry, a Southern Ground label mate of Hopkins’ who is also the song’s co-writer. Jerry Douglas takes part in “Runaway Train,” which steamrolls in as the album’s opener and Zac Brown himself appears on “I Will Lay Me Down,” one that could easily appear on a ZBB album. But this is a Hopkins & BR album, and a great one at that.
Produced by John Driskell Hopkins
Engineered by Van Atkins, Scott Barnett, Ryan Carr, Larry Gates Matt Mangano & Tyler Walker
Mastered by Southern Ground Studios