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“Meanwhile” has special meaning for producer David Harvey, as it features his boyhood friend, the late Harley Allen, one of the best and most underrated bluegrass singers of our time, in one of his very last recorded vocals. Written by Justin Hayward and featuring his rhythm guitar, it keeps the family feeling with background vocals by Harley’s wife Debbie Nims Allen and David’s wife Jan Harvey. Justin and Harley developed a close friendship after the first Moody Bluegrass project and the pair performed together several times in Nashville, shows that featured as much humor as music and that inevitably included Harley’s request that Justin play one of his most famous songs – “Nights in White Castle.”
Mike Pinder’s “Dawn is a Feeling” brings in one of the best and most innovative bluegrass singers - Peter Rowan - who joins forces with The Settles Connection, framed by the album’s most complex arrangement of strings and mandolins.
Justin Hayward takes the lead vocal spotlight for his “It’s Cold Outside Of Your Heart,” a country-flavored song that would sound at home on today’s charts, thanks in large part to the stellar fiddle work of bluegrass veteran and tie-dyed-in-the-wool Moodies fanGlen Duncan.
“You and Me” features Ricky Skaggs, bluegrass’ all-time most commercially successful artist, whose clear, high voice has spanned award-winning bluegrass, country, country-rock, pop and gospel recordings. He gets to touch all those bases here, in a fast-moving Moodies song with a deeply spiritual feel.
“Say It With Love” puts a new spin on the Moody Blues sound with Jan Harvey’s lead female voice bringing a new perspective to that classic. “Blood harmony” is a longstanding bluegrass tradition – no one sings together like family – and Jan is featured in a trio with her sisters Jill Crabtree and Teresa Steed. The song is made even more special by Aubrey Haynie’s great fiddling. This is Jan’s feature, but David Harvey says his wife is the unsung hero of the entire Moody Bluegrass Two… Much Love project, calling her his “co-producer,” a title she modestly refuses.
Moody John Lodge takes the lead on the uptempo “Send Me No Wine,” featuring still one more master fiddler, the great Stuart Duncan.
“The Story in Your Eyes,” another Moodies classic, is given soulful bluegrass treatment by Ronnie Bowman, in a powerful trio with John Cowan and David Harvey.
Ray Thomas’ “Nice To Be Here” features one of bluegrass’ most consistently creative forces, the King of Telluride, the Father of New Grass, Sam Bush, who joins with his old bandmate John Cowan and the equally iconoclastic Russell Smith, the Amazing Rhythm Ace who is also one of Nashville’s most respected songwriters. It’s a whimsical child’s song about an animal jamboree that sounds like a British Disney cartoon.
That song shows the childlike innocence that was at the heart of the psychedelic rock movement. David’s daughter Emma Harvey (just 8 years old at the time) also brings that quality out beautifully, making her lead vocal debut in “Voices in the Sky.”
“Have You Heard” is another Mike Pinder song, this one featuring the vocal of Larry Cordle and Carl Jackson, who also makes a rare appearance on banjo, the instrument that first brought him national fame on the old Glen Campbell Good Time Hour. The track also features Stuart Duncan.
Moody member Graeme Edge sings his “Higher and Higher”, featuring Duncan’s Moroccan-textured strings and Marcia Campbell’s footwork percussion.
“Tuesday Afternoon” is a certified classic, on the Top 10 of every Moodies fan. It gets spectacular treatment here with John Cowan’s lead voice, backed by producer/songwriter/singer Jon Randall and Jan Harvey’s soaring high baritone, underpinned by the fluid banjo of Alison Brown.
“Highway” brings Jon Randall’s voice to the fore, with a shock-and-awe backup vocal army that features a bluegrass trio with Jan and David Harvey and a multi-voice choir including The Settles Connection.
“Lost Chord” is the David Harvey/Tim May-penned instrumental coda, a tribute to The Moody Blues’ classic album, In Search of The Lost Chord, as well as a homage to all heartfelt musical and spiritual quests. That chord once was lost but now is found, as this chapter in the ongoing Moody Bluegrass saga comes to a close.
With Moody Bluegrass Two... Much Love, the worlds of bluegrass and progressive rock don’t collide, they combine to create that chord, finding common ground in perfect harmony.