In 2001 Todd Bartolo, lead singer/songwriter/guitarist and driving force behind roots rock outfit, The Youngers, acquired mounted bullhorns from Bill Monroe's estate sale. The artifact from the bluegrass founder's personal collection hangs from an archway in Bartolo's home and serves as a daily reminder of the importance of heritage in his life and music. "Previous generations established foundations, that their lives and achievements would be the basis for future generations to come" said Bartolo, from the band's home base of Mohnton, PA. He took that ethos and applied it to recording the follow-up to The Youngers debut, Output, (Obuck Records 2005) and headed to Hendersonville, TN to work with producer John Carter Cash, at the historic Cash Cabin studio. Cash, no stranger to musical tradition, only son to country legend John and June Carter Cash and grandson to Mother Maybelle Carter, had previously worked on his late father's, American III: Solitary Man and American IV: The Man Comes Around albums as well as produced and co-produced albums with Marty Stuart, Shaver, Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris, and Willie Nelson "We wanted to record the album in a place that inspired us as much as the material did, and with its significance and history, the Cash Cabin, proved to be that place", Bartolo continued. The resulting sessions yielded, Heritage, a collection of 13 brand new, well-written, thought provoking, and honest songs from Bartolo and his Younger co-horts Randy Krater (Bass and Vocals), and Justin Schaefer (Drums and Percussion). The album is buoyed by performances from John Carter Cash (Percussion), Laura Cash (Fiddle), Ronnie McCoury of The Del McCoury Band (Mandolin), and legendary Waylon Jennings' pedal steel player Ralph Mooney. James Harton (Hammond B3, Piano) and former Younger Jesse Nocera (Guitars) also joined Bartolo and company in the studio. The title track explores how past generations embodied love, standards, structure, beliefs, and practices and juxtaposes it with the absence of these foundations in today's society.
Heritage is full of chiming guitars, anthemic choruses, soaring harmonies and story songs of working and hard life blues. From the hopelessly addictive sing-a-long opener, "Heartbreaker" to the pulsating, seven minute coda, "Downtown", The Youngers have crafted a recording that celebrates the music they love and pays homage to their heroes before them. Bartolo wears his influences proudly on his sleeve, from the E-Street tinged, "Middle of the Night" , the Crazy Horse country stomp of, "In The Morning", the McCoury mandolin fueled, "Big Ol' Freightrain", or the Byrdsian jangle of "Seat 24", all in the capable hands of The Youngers, who shift effortlessly with each stylistic discipline. Heritage shines a light on the daily struggle, but celebrates the satisfaction and reward of a life's little victories. Each listen reveals a new piece to life's puzzle through unveiling secrets from the past.