Rob Mashburn has put together a pleasing collection of mainstream country tunes on The Picker. His voice and approach to the music will probably remind you of Don Williams - pleasing baritone voice, low key delivery and laid-back sound. Even novelty tunes like Boney Maroney and Hainted House have a smoky, barroom feel to them, rather than the garage-rock sound we associate with more familiar versions. The lead guitar work in the latter is especially tasty and twangy.
The highlights of the recording are the title cut, a sympathetic ballad about the lessons in life we'd have preferred not to learn from experience, and an excellent vocal version of Wildwood Flower, presented here with some tasty acoustic guitar fills and backup. It's done so often as an instrumental, we forget how lovely the words are.
The instrumentation is nicely understated, leaving the vocals out front where they're clear and strong. The drums (it is country, after all) carry the rhythm nicely without having that slamming, screen-door sound. The electric guitar and fiddle work are simple and true to the melody, but that's in keeping with the way old, traditional country should be.
The tape was marred at the beginning by some dropout and speed variations, probably from the production process. It's unfortunate, because it hurts an otherwise nice effort. Mashburn has shown himself to be a fine storyteller and interpreter of songs.