By Joshua Wallace

Asleep At The Wheel have returned with a new album of original cuts and covers.  This is the first Asleep At The Wheel record since 2016’s Christmas album titled Lone Star Christmas Night.  This record finds the band splitting vocal duties between Ray Benson and new fiddle player Katie Shore. Katie has been featured on Asleep At The Wheel albums before, but not this heavily as she takes lead vocals on six tracks throughout the record.  This brings a fresh sound to a band that has been around since 1970.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Pencil Full Of Lead” which is a Ray Benson lead cut.  It’s a faster number that features the classic Asleep At The Wheel sound you’ve come to know and love with nice work from Eddie Rivers on both pedal steel and sax.  Another favorite is a track that was co-written by Ray Benson and Katie Shore titled “Call It A Day Tonight”. This is a slower jazzy number that really allows Katie’s vocals to shine.

Another favorite is the track “Pass The Bottle Around”.  This is a Ray Benson track that features Katie heavily on fiddle with a nice solo feature towards the end.  You do get the feeling that Katie Shore is the star of this album and Ray Benson is more of a support player.  The song “Weary Rambler” is perhaps my favorite that features Katie Shore on vocals. It’s another mellow jazzy tune about ramblers looking for freedom.  Finally, the album closes out with a number featuring Seth and Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers and written by Seth Avett. Basically, if you have ever wondered what The Avett Brothers would sound like with Asleep At The Wheel backing them, this is it.  The song pays tribute to Willie Nelson who has written about nearly everything you can write about and he got there first.

New Routes is an album that feels like a new beginning for this old band.  They’re exploring new sounds and bringing a new singer to the forefront with the vocals of Katie Shore being heavily featured.  I feel like this record breathes new life into an act that some would say had become a tribute act as they have not released many original records over the recent years.  I’m looking forward to what comes from Asleep At The Wheel which now effectively features two vocalists and is still an amazing country and western swing band. New Routes is out everywhere you can find good music on Friday September 14th, 2018.          

Favorite Tracks : Pencil Full Of Lead, Call It A Day Tonight, Pass The Bottle Around, Weary Rambler, Willie Got There First

Asleep At The Wheel – New Routes (2018)

  1. Jack I’m Mellow
  2. Pencil Full Of Lead
  3. Call It A Day Tonight
  4. Seven Nights To Rock
  5. Dublin Blues
  6. I Am Blue
  7. Pass The Bottle Around
  8. Big River
  9. Weary Rambler
  10. More Days Like This
  11. Willie Got There First (featuring Seth Avett and Scott Avett)
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