Long-time country music veterans Shenandoah return after a 20-year hiatus with 2018’s Reloaded. The album largely consists of live recordings from their extensive portfolio of chart-topping hits.
This effort largely represents a chronology of their catalogue, but ends with a promising look to the group’s future with three new tracks. Whatever the case, Reloaded displays that even after years of changing line-ups and sporadic activity, Shenandoah shows no sign of slowing down as they move forward.
The title of this entry perfectly encompasses the band’s current mindset: after 20 years, they’re reloaded and ready re-emerge. Therefore, the first nine tracks are live performances of old favorites with some implicit and explicit variation to the tunes. The most notable of which remains “Sunday in the South” now featuring an ethereal and atmospheric contribution from new lead guitarist, Jamie Michael. Other recordings of the band’s notable tracks “Next To You, Next To Me,” “Mama Knows,” and “Two Dozen Roses” largely remain the same in terms of musicality, but serve as a nice reminder of the sound that made them famous as well as a solid showcase of their onstage chemistry that hasn’t eroded over the years.
The final three tracks of Reloaded leave much to be expected from Shenandoah’s dynamic return. Each of the new songs offer much in terms of musical variety. “Noise” features the songwriting talents of Nashville’s Randie Foster, Gordie Sampson, and Jim MacCormick respectively. This entry allows the band to veer more into a contemporary sound while maintaining their own personal nuance, notably marked by Marty Raybon’s smooth tenor. The nostalgic “That’s Where I Grew Up” provides clever lyrics and ballad-like instrumentation that reinforce the lyrical content and Raybon’s effective delivery. Reloaded’s final cut, “Little Bit of Livin’,” gives a great contrast to its preceding track that ends the album with an upbeat, carefree tune with endless potential for commercial success.
Now partnered with BMG, Shenandoah’s return portends momentous success. I must say, I’m excited to witness the new heights the band will undoubtedly achieve.