Eric and Leigh Gibson have been singing together since they were kids, and playing bluegrass professionally since they were teens. I’ve always enjoyed their music, but – unlike many bands – the Gibsons continue to improve their singing, their writing, and their musical arrangements. Their current band lineup is stellar, and their writing is at the top of their game. And… you just can’t beat the sound of two blood brothers singing together. They sound like one voice. Every track is solid, original bluegrass. Great listening!
Gillian Welch The Harrow and the Harvest
I can’t say I love every song on this album, but Gillian Welch is the kind of songwriter that gives me a great sense of musical security. I know the arrangement will be tasteful; that it won’t be too wordy (ever!) or too gaudy. Sparse, pointed, not over-dramatic. I don’t relate to the subjects of many of her songs, but that doesn’t change my admiration for this album. Listening to her music is like looking at an abstract painting, and just enjoying the way the colors work together. Solid writing and really solid arrangements between musicians who work well together.
Kruger Brothers Christmas Magic
I know most of us don’t think about Christmas music most of the year, but I have to make mention of this beautiful collection of songs for winter and Christmas. The arrangements run the gamut from jazzy to kitschy to classical. It opens with “The Lights in Our Village”, a reflective look back at Christmas in the Swiss countryside of their childhood. It’s the single original track on the album (by Uwe Kruger). Then there’s Mele Kalikimaka – and (I can hardly believe I’m saying this) you’ll even want to sing along! J.S. Bach’s “Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring” closes the album (with girls’ chorus), with Irving Berlin, Bernard Smith, and Sammy Cahn songs in between. It’s my new favorite.
Noam Pikelny Beat the Devil and Carry A Rail
Noam Pikelny has put together such an enjoyable collection of tunes! There’s just enough singing to punctuate the instrumentals, and Aoefe O’Donovan’s voice on “Fish and Bird” is beautiful. Tim O’Brien also sings a track on this album. Steve Martin (banjo), Jerry Douglas (dobro) , Chris Thile (mandolin), and Bryan Sutton(guitar) make guest appearances. The tunes are down-home, approachable, and fun. It’s a fun listen, and a great travel companion for the car.
Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers Rare Bird Alert
Steve Martin is a VERY funny guy! Even when he’s playing the banjo! Great album graphics and liner notes - and great listening. The instrumentals are light-hearted, and the songs are hilarious (like, “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs”). Martin is so talented it would be hard to make a choice between his acting and his music. Thankfully, you don’t have to. Just get this album. You’ll love it.
Tom Waits Bad As Me
I think Im just like every other fan of Tom Waits. I hang on every word. Im transported to every gritty, seedy setting. Every time one of his downtrodden characters shows even a twinkle of good intention, Im hooked. I love them all. This ones no exception. Musically, Waits has always attracted listeners who appreciate lyrics (sometimes in spite of the music) . and he just keeps up the good work.