Every once in a while I’m just totally blown away by an album. I’ve heard and played A LOT of bluegrass. It takes quite a bit to blow me away these days. I’m not saying I’m the Bluegrass Police or an old, grumpy picker who hates anything made after 1960, but I’m getting there.
That being said, this morning I was totally blown away when I popped in the new Bill Evans album “In Good Company” for the morning commute.
From the first note it manages to strike the perfect balance of new grass mellowness, taste and restraint with solid traditional Bluegrass drive. It’s dry but with a hint of moistened reverb, clean with specks of dust, edgy when it needs to be but traditional in just the right spots without ever being cliché or ironic. (Thank the lord, because I’m really getting sick of ironic)
Honestly, I try to take an open minded approach to these things and listen without any pre-conceived notions, so going in to this I had no idea what this album was all about. But when I got to the office I opened up the liner notes to find out it’s a smorgasbord of bluegrass deliciousness. I then understood EXACTLY why I thought it was SOOO good. Check out the listing of contributors…
Bill Evans with The Infamous Stringdusters, Tim O’Brien, Joy Kills Sorrow, Darol Anger, Cindy Browne Rosefield, Tashina & Tristan Clarridge, Stuart Duncan, Corey Evans, Matt Flinner, David Grier, Rob Ickes, Dominic Leslie, Laurie Lewis, Ned Luberecki, Mike Marshall, Todd Phillips and Missy Raines. Produced by Bill Evans, Stephen Mougin, Darol Anger & Tom Size.
Good grief if you can’t make a killer album with that line up, you need think about doing something else. That being said it even exceeds the sum of it parts by an order of magnitude. Bill Evans really has put a good one together.
The first track called the “The Distance Between Two Points” starts it off perfectly and from there it was a joy to listen to all the way through. From the first note you can tell it’s a technical masterpiece where every note is placed with perfection and care. It’s not just the musicianship that stands out either.
The engineering and production values are off the chart AMAZING! The complexity and space surrounding the instruments is phenomenal. There is serious subtly in the bass tone.The woodyness of each instrument comes through in all it’s sparkling glory. It’s a rare beast indeed that brings this kind of complexity to the table without becoming too tedious, wonky, over-complicated or esoteric. This album has NONE of that, and for that, it’s a breath of fresh air to be sure.
It also manages to hang together as a cohesive idea too, which is rare on these all-star projects. Sometimes these kinds of albums can fall apart and turn into a few decent tracks with some filler. However “In Good Company” manages to maintain a solid feel and vibe that is consistent through out the entire length of the record. It has a nice change of pace and mix of feels but at the same a uniformity that seems to be elusive in today’s scatterbrained culture. I love that!
This is an album that should have a place in every Bluegrass fan’s shelf, it’s the work of a master and his good company.