Born Again Bluegrass Tallies Another Triumph
Marty Falle is on a roll. He's found remarkable success worldwide since beginning his pursuit of bluegrass with his last two albums. His new album, the aptly named Born Again Bluegrass, follows suit. Released on November 18th at 4 am (!), it immediately shot up to the Number One slot on several worldwide album charts of all genres, including the APD Global Album Chart. Bluegrass radio programmers in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Italy, and the UK jumped on the new album on day one.
Granted, Falle's decision to release a new record so closely on the heels of his last album, My Farm, My Bluegrass, may seem somewhat unusual, especially considering that the previous effort still reigns high in the charts of many major bluegrass and roots publications. To be sure, it defies the usual popular protocol. However, unlike other artists, Falle places his emphasis on writing entire albums rather than focusing solely on singles. He's an extremely prolific songwriter who eschews cover songs in favor of his original material. So, too, he isn't dependent on the major label machinery to share his efforts with the world, ensuring that he continues to produce his music strictly on his own terms.
The new album offers ample evidence of that philosophy and finesse. Once again, Falle varies the template while staying true to the cultural components that inform and inspire each of his efforts. All 15 songs match quality with quantity, from the upbeat exuberance and rousing revelry of "Blue Blaze Breakdown, ""Bluegrass Boogeyman'," Hillbilly Stomp," and "Lost Creek Revival," to the sweet serendipity found in such songs as "Colorado," "Ohio" and "Fades."
According to Lee Zimmerman, author of Americana Music — Voices, Visionaries & Pioneers of An Honest Sound, a respected book that documents the paths taken by traditional American music, "My Farm, My Bluegrass offers reverence for the roots, while maintaining contemporary credence. Few musicians tap such varied sources so well." Here again, hope and happenstance find equal footing. The measured tones of "Long Long Road" offer an ideal example:
"Spread my wings and shatter air,
This is where I come aware,
At the end of this long, long road…
And all my fears and all my sins,
I just whistle down the wind,
At the end of this long, long road…"
The touching, tender "Appalachia Blue" shares similar sentiments."
Oh Appalachia Blue
Blessings so Bountiful!!!
Falle believes that a well-crafted song is an artist's most important asset. He recently told Cashbox Magazine, "I needed to find out who I was as a 100% original artist. Good, bad, or ugly, this is who I am."
He's proved his point. Falle wrote, recorded, and produced no less than three top-charting albums in 2023 alone. Yet it's not that he hasn't had his challenges. He was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, but his faith in God allowed him to persevere. Nevertheless, his struggles continued. He underwent radical surgery, but the cancer returned. He then had to deal with an ensuing series of tragedies — the loss of his college roommate, as well as one of his best friends and his brother-in-law. It all seemed insurmountable, and it left Falle wondering about his own future… and if, in fact, he had a future at all. He wasn't sure if he'd ever record again, yet he continued to write.
When he finally got news that his cancer was in remission, he went back to work, recruiting a team of Nashville session players and setting a date for returning to the recording studio. Three albums followed in rapid succession — Kentucky Bluestar, My Farm, my Bluegrass and his latest offering, Born Again Bluegrass.
All three have been greeted with the excitement and anticipation that usually accompanies a new release by a veteran superstar. He's taken the bluegrass world by storm and launched a career bringing him the acclaim that clearly suggests his superstardom is all but certain.
To be sure, he hasn't accomplished these feats all on his own. His studio standbys consist of a list of the who's who of Americana, Appalachian, roots, and bluegrass. The players he's worked with include producer Jonathan Yudkin playing fiddled mandolin, guitarist Carl Miner, veteran bassist Michael Bub, solo stalwart Rob Ickes on dobro, Josh Matheny only steel, Matt Menefee and Tim Carter on banjo, and multi-instrumentalist Sam Hunt. Falle himself plays guitar, lead and backing vocals.
Charts and Triumphs
Critics quickly took notice. Falle graced the cover of The Bluegrass Standard Magazine this past June, and he was spotlighted in feature stories in Americana Rhythm Magazine and Bluegrass Today Magazine, which described him as "an artist well worth your attention." The kudos continued from there. He was designated as "Artist of the Month" by Ohio Bluegrass deejay Michelle Lee and featured in an article in Country Music International in Europe. More recently, Falle was singled out in Germany's CountryMusicNowInternational after hitting Number One on its chart.
Any number of media appearances followed, including guest appearances on David Pugh's Bluegrass Show, Mountain Bluegrass, with featured guest spots on the popular radio show Annette in the Morning, and on All Around Bluegrass w/ Jos in the Netherlands, and Bluegrass CZ.
Meanwhile, the Kentucky Bluestar album reached Number Eight on the Top 50 APD Bluegrass / Folk Albums for April 2023, while the title song itself broke into the Top Ten of the Bluegrass Today singles chart, debuting at Number Six. In addition, the song climbed to Number One on the Bluegrass Jamboree Top 100 and charted at Number Seven on the Bluegrass Borderline Top 10.
My Farm, My Bluegrass, found similar success. It reached Number One on the APD Global Radio Indicator Chart for All Genres on the day of its release! In fact, an astounding eight out of the Top 10 singles for the APD Bluegrass Global Radio Indicator Chart were born from My Farm, My Bluegrass. The album reached Number One on the APD Global Radio Indicator Chart for all genres the week of 8/20 – 8/27 and entered the Top 20 Album Roots Music Chart at Number 19. My Farm, My Bluegrass continued its reign at Number One on the APD Global chart for over a month, clearing the way for Falle's last two albums to enter the Top Five.
At one point, Falle had three records in the APD Top Five. An earlier Marty Falle album, 2021's Virgin on the Bluegrass, hit Number 29 on the APD Global Radio Chart of Top 50 Bluegrass Albums for August 2023.
The singles culled from My Farm, My Bluegrass also found continued success. "Praise the Lord and Pass the Gravy" charted at Number 34 on the APD Country Singles chart and then reached Number Six for August on APD's Global Chart, while its follow-up, "The Calling," hit Number Seven. Another song from My Farm, My Bluegrass, "Ode to Ale 8," debuted at Number Eight on the Roots Music Top 50 Contemporary Bluegrass Song Chart and went on to climb to Number Five. It also debuted in the Top 20 — at Number 13 — in the August edition of Bluegrass Jamboree's Top 100. Then, it was singled out on the Mountain Bluegrass radio show, courtesy of David Pugh's weekly Top 12 songs. "Ode to Ale 8" also made the Top 10 on Pugh's program as well.
Meanwhile, "Praise the Lord and Pass the Gravy" entered the Top 10 in the APD Gospel charts and eventually hit Number One on the APD Singles Chart, while "The Calling" scored at Number Two on that same chart. "Praise the Lord and Pass the Gravy" also hit Number One on the Mountain Bluegrass Gospel Chart.
That led to another round of media appearances, including Bluegrass Breakdown on 88.1 FM, St. Louis, the syndicated Rick Dollar Show, the Danny Hensley Show on 91.7FM Knoxville,
and the popular Netherlands radio program Countryland. He was selected for the cover of Americana Rhythm Magazine's October 2023 edition and featured in an article for The Bluegrass Standard that same month. Falle was also the subject of another story in Bluegrass Today in October.
Kentucky Bluestar joined My Country, My Bluegrass in the Top 50 APD Bluegrass/Folk Albums for September 2023, one of the two of his albums in the Top 50 for all genres. Falle would finish September with 13 songs in the Top 50 APD Bluegrass/Folk Singles. "Praise the Lord and Pass the Gravy" then charted as the Number One Country single. It also reached Number Three on the Mountain Bluegrass Gospel Chart.
Meanwhile, "Ode to Ale 8" continued its climb. It reached number three on the Bluegrass Jamboree Top 100 for September, number six on the Bluegrass Today singles chart, number two on the Mountain Bluegrass chart, and charted at number 16 on the Roots Music Chart. It would eventually hit Number One for October 2023 on the Bluegrass Jamboree Top 100.
Two singles charted in the Bluegrass Jamboree Top 50 — "Ode to Ale 8," which climbed to Number Two, and "Praise the Lord and Pass the Gravy,” which hit the Top 50. In addition, another song from the album, "Kentucky Proud," also entered the chart. The latter also made the Roots Chart's Top Twenty.
Bluegrass Today went on to rank Falle at Number 20 for the entire month of October 2023. The album scored successfully on the Roots Music Chart, the All Genres Chart and the Bluegrass/Folk Chart on APD.
Bluegrass in his blood
It could be claimed without any exaggeration whatsoever that this singer, songwriter, and musician has always had bluegrass in his blood. It was infused early on when, after watching re-runs of The Andy Griffith Show as a youngster, he became fascinated by the show's "house band," a fictitious group called The Darlings, who was played by The Dillards, a real-life group responsible for transitioning the archival echoes of mountain music into a sound that could be admired, appreciated, and enjoyed through populist appeal. Falle's fondness for the form was further nurtured while living in Athens, Ohio, where he frequented a local record store that featured live bluegrass on an ongoing basis. Having dabbled in music while in high school, he relocated to Eastern Kentucky after college, and it was there that he immersed himself in the traditional template so essential to the music of that particular region.
Much of his music has been rooted in those Appalachian origins, specifically, the various stylistic strains and archival influences in Irish, Scottish, and English folk music. They're sounds that eventually found their way into American country and mountain music through those early pioneers who ventured overseas to resettle in Appalachia. History and happenstance evolved from there.
"Kentuckians have been wearing out shoe leather at informal jamborees since the state was settled over two hundred years ago," Falle notes. "A Rosine barn dance helped launch Bill Monroe's career. Even today, Appalachian cloggers and square dance callers celebrate the unique musical culture of Kentucky."
Ultimately, Falle digs deep into that heritage and faithfully follows a musical route that combines bluegrass, roots, and Americana music. In the end, his is a journey well worth sharing.