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ALBUM REVIEW - Ian Taylor - Watauga Democrat/Mountain Times

They say you have your whole life to write your first album, but for the members of Cane Mill Road that hasn’t been too long of a time.

The bluegrass outfit’s youthful energy comes from its actual youth, with the three members appearing on the album — Liam Purcell, Trajan Wellington and Eliot Smith — being only 14, 17 and 19 respectively. Their debut album, “Five Speed,” is an energetic new-school bluegrass record that should put a lot of people on notice.

The album opener and title song of the album is a frantic tune which shows that listeners shouldn’t underestimate the group’s skills just because of their age.

The clean precision of the instrumentation is almost like a talent show for the band, just to prove that they’re for real.

The energy may be the only youthful thing from the album, with many of the songs being covers of songs older than the band’s combined ages. Bands can have a hard time getting new listeners when their first album comes out, but filling it with songs that are well-known and beloved by many is a good way to get potential new fans to take notice.

It can be a double-edged sword however, with high expectations for covers of songs considered classics or ones that have already been covered many times. One such song is The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” which has been covered in many different genres. Cane Mill Road’s instrumental version took a big swing at the fastball down the middle, and they connected with power.

Without any lyrics, it keeps the song’s legendary grandiosity, and does its best to keep the same tone.

Also on the album are covers of “Maggie’s Farm” and “Sweet Georgia Brown.” Both are staples for being covered, with varying successes.

Cane Mill Road does a good job with both, with lead-singer Liam Purcell’s voice fitting the iconic Bob Dylan tune very well.

Outside of the covers are a few original songs, which may not pop as much as the covers, but are still impressive efforts coming from such a young group.

Overall, “Five Speed” is a great first compilation. As a new band, Cane Mill Road has a lot of room to grow, and a lot of time to do it, but the future is quite bright for the trio of young bluegrass musicians.