Daniel Grindstaff’ (feat. Trey Hensley) “Looking at the World Through a Windshield”

Daniel Grindstaff’s collaboration with singer/songwriter and guitarist Trey Hensley, “Looking at the World Through a Windshield”, is contemporary bluegrass in its finest iteration. Grindstaff, an East Tennessee native and banjo virtuoso, has pursued his professional music ambitions since the tender age of 18. He’s since graced the stage of some of Americana’s most respected venues, including the famed Grand Old Opry, and played with scores of respected genre figures such as The Osborne Brothers and Marty Raybon, to name a few. “Looking at the World Through a Windshield” pairs him with one of contemporary Americana’s most talented purveyors.

URL: danielgrindstaff.com/

The song’s subject is unassailable. It’s a single that tackles one of the most intrinsic human emotions, longing and places it within a context that any listener is familiar with. The writing never bites off more than it can chew. The songwriting phrases it in a conversational style that broadens its appeal to a considerable cross-section of listeners rather than tailoring it for an exclusively bluegrass audience. One of the chief strengths that Daniel Grindstaff consistently brings to the table is his eclectic willingness to explore many facets of Americana rather than restricting himself to one narrow corner.

Hensley’s vocal performance is well-suited for the track. He has a strong style that captures the listener’s attention, and its physicality is an excellent match for the robust pace set by the music. He never rushes his performance. He connects with the song’s energy from the first and gives it an added kick in the pants with singing flashing with vim and vigor. The vocal harmonies in the arrangement are short, but they contribute a lot to its overall tone. Such moments accentuate the song’s traditional merits without sounding stuck in the bygone past.

Many bluegrass performers approach the genre convinced that audiences want songs approximating the simple life implied by the form. This means they want to hear about country living and eternal virtues firmly rooted in rustic settings. “Looking at the World Through a Windshield” doesn’t subscribe to such a view. It’s a song about people and the timeless yearning in their hearts. Music like this doesn’t date.

The performance invokes that. It is a likely much livelier concert number as the musicians would undoubtedly feed off an audience’s reaction. The recording captures a gripping live feel that suggests Grindstaff and his partners recorded the track live in the studio with zero or minimal overdubs. It’s the best way. Bluegrass is music of the moment, and seizing on its spontaneous potential is key to its enduring appeal.

APPLE MUSIC: music.apple.com/us/album/looking-at-the-world-through-a-windshield-feat/1734436571

“Looking at the World Through a Windshield” is another feather in Daniel Grindstaff’s cap as one of modern bluegrass’ most talented performers. The song does not pretend to be anything it isn’t. It’s a straightforward and uncluttered picture of life and the vagaries of the human heart that scores of listeners, both devoted and casual, will connect with. Let us hope we hear more of this kind of fare from Grindstaff in the coming years.

Clay Burton