Today, in conjunction with his 30th birthday, the eclectic Billy Strings has announced his next studio album ME/AND/DAD will release on Nov. 18, via Rounder Records. The project is a collection of 14 classic songs that Strings and his father, Terry Barber, have played together throughout Strings’ life – quite literally the songbook that made him the musician and human he is today. Along with the announcement of the LP, Strings has shared two preview tracks, bluegrass traditional “Long Journey Home” and “Life To Go” by George Jones.

“As long as I can remember, I wanted to make a record with my dad. I’ve been burning up and down the highways the last 12 years, and as time slips away, you start thinking, ‘I need to make time,’” Strings shared about the project with his dad. “It’s been a bucket list thing for me, something I’ve been afraid I wouldn’t find the time to do. And that scared me; not doing this record scared me.”

Strings has always proved if there is a will, there’s a way, and during a packed touring schedule, he was able to bring his father from his home in Michigan to Nashville’s Sound Emporium studios along with a band including bassist Mike Bub, mandolinist Ron McCoury, banjoist Rob McCoury and fiddler Michael Cleveland. The project also features Jerry Douglas and Jason Carter. Together the ensemble masterfully recorded songs the father and son know like the “back of their hands,” from Bill Monore and Doc Watson tracks to hymns and traditional classics.

When Barber arrived at the studio, he was equipped with his Martin acoustic, the very guitar he played when Strings was just a young boy and then pawned to support the family. He once thought it was lost forever, but Strings located “the family jewel” online and returned it to his father.

“I’ve never been so dumbstruck in my life,” Terry said of the gift. “It was like bringing my mother out of the grave.”

Through the distinct sound of that Martin mixed with Strings’ own collection of guitars, the new project sees a musical connection like none other; one that puts the family in familiarity. On all the tracks, there’s an effortless musical connection that is especially highlighted through the raw arrangments of bluegrass. The trading of licks, vocals, harmonies, melodies and memories are immaculately seamless.

“We’ve done these songs forever. We get to the part where someone has to sing, and we’ll look at each other: ‘You or me?’ We’ve been doing it since I was 3 years old,” Strings said turning to his dad. “I can’t play with anyone like I can play with you.”

“And I can’t either,” Terry replied. “I’ve tried, and forget about it.”

Though the title of the project highlights the bond of a father and son, the boys know better than to leave out mom. On the final track, “I Heard My Mother Weeping,” Strings’ mother Debra lends her vocals. “I remember him and my mom singing it when I was a kid so beautifully. I knew it was always going to be the last song on the record. That’s me and my mom and dad. Just us three.”

Listen to Billy Strings and Terry Barber perform “Long Journey Home” below.


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