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Missy Raines’ HIGHLANDER Out Today!

Highlander coverMissy Raines releases HIGHLANDER today. The new album firmly establishes the 14-time IBMA Award-winning bassist/vocalist/songwriter as a trailblazer in bluegrass music.

Raines revisits the mid-Atlantic bluegrass sounds of the 1970s that inspired her as child growing up in Short Gap, WV, on the new release. Working again with producer Alison Brown, she delivers a set of 10 songs featuring guest appearances from Laurie Lewis, Dudley Connell, Danny Paisley, Kathy Mattea, Michael Cleveland, Rob Ickes, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, Darol Anger, Shad Cobb and producer Alison Brown. The members of her touring band Allegheny — Ellie Hakanson (fiddle, harmony vocals), Tristan Scroggins (mandolin), Eli Gilbert (banjo) and Ben Garnett (guitar) — offer outstanding performances throughout. But it is Raines’ extensive knowledge of and deep passion for bluegrass music is on full display throughout, making HIGHLANDER a bluegrass album for the ages.

Raines explains: “Making this record and having this band has been sort of a homecoming. I’m at a point in my life where I’ve been able to look back at what I’ve gone through, what I’ve done, and the path I ultimately wanted to take.”
Stand out tracks include “Who Needs a Mine,” featuring fellow West Virginian Kathy Mattea sharing lead vocal duties. The song addresses the opioid crisis which has hit their home state harder than any other state in the country. Raines and Mattea channel the spirit of Hazel Dickens, drilling into the deep emotion of despair surrounding this issue, asking, “Who needs a mine to kill us dead when a little pill works fine instead?”

The iconic Danny Paisley duets on “These Ole Blues” which Raines discovered on a recent Loretta Lynn album. Reinterpreting the song with a bluegrass shuffle feel makes it sound like one that’s been a bluegrass standard for years. Raines tapped Laurie Lewis, a California-based bluegrass pioneer, to join her on the Nathan Bell penned song “I Would Be a Blackbird.” Although Lewis and Raines grew up on opposite coasts, Raines says Lewis’s music was an influence on her from an early age, as well as the example she set as a bandleader, songwriter, and vocalist. Adorned by Eli Gilbert’s clawhammer banjo and Ellie Hakansan’s cross tuned fiddle, the track has the feel of an old-time song that could be a century old.

The album’s most recent single “Ghost Of A Love” features Dudley Connell (Johnson Mountain Boys) on duet vocals. Raines found the song on an album from the Virginia Band Big Country Bluegrass. With its driving 6/8 feel and lonesome lyrics, it has the sound of a ready made bluegrass classic. Raines says: “When I was growing up in Short Gap, WV, I jammed with the Johnson Mountain Boys often and remember when they were first playing together. In fact their sound was a big inspiration for my band Allegheny.”

But, beyond the impressive array of guest musicians and the outstanding performances of her bandmates on the new album, it’s Raines’ musical vision, shaped by her extensive knowledge of and deep passion for bluegrass music, that is on full display on HIGHLANDER. And, ultimately, that is what makes HIGHLANDER a bluegrass album for the ages.

Raines reflects: “I love so many different kinds of music. But I cannot describe how bluegrass affects me, and why it affects me so deeply.”

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