This week’s list of new releases was saturated with quality material for a review from some veteran acts and some lesser known musicians. After sampling all the new albums on the list, I brought the contenders from twenty to about six. The Drive-By Truckers, Elvis Presley w/ The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Beach Slang, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, The Yawpers + Steve Martin & Edie Brickell had the best releases of the week. After repeated sampling, I came to the tough decision that Steve Martin and Edie Brickell had the most promising new album for the week.
The album begins with the title track “So Familiar”, which opens with a wonderful partnering of an organ and Martin’s banjo. Edie takes charge vocally on this up-beat non-traditional number, that is more like a bluegrass crossover.
“Always Will” is an Appalachian love song with a level of playfulness in Edie’s vocals.
“Way Back In The Day” is a 70’s style ballad that combines gorgeous strings and piano with the country flavor of steel guitar. This is a highly reflective tune and takes things very deep.
Girl-rock and country are combined on “Won’t Go Back”, which blurs the lines further with the addition of saxophone and a short electro-celt thing closer to the end of the track.
The sentiment on “I’m By Your Side” is heart-warming and Edie easily convinces the ears that she means every word.
“I Had A Vision” is a fantastic song, but is a bit of a sad tale with the optimism of someone who is somewhat ignorant of how much time they have let pass them by, but still certain of the time they think they have left them. Edie’s voice wraps itself perfectly around every word.
A wood-wind begins the sweet “I Have You”, which shows Steve singing along-side of Edie, while their voices are wrapped in lovely strings and keys.
Things go the rowdy bluegrass direction on “Another Round”, which is mostly a tip of the hat to corn liquor, which gets the narrator high, quicker. It is a fun, high-energy tune that has a live vibe, as if walking down the street with people joining in to clap and sing-along.
“Mine All Mine” combines the concept of love at first sight and the idea that the woman gets what she wants. It also shines light on the fact that, as men, we are often the last to know.
“Heart Of A Dreamer” has the feel of West Virginia in the early hours of the day, with Celtic roots firmly planted.
The banjo lullaby of “My Baby” is a song that Edie sings to a yet to be born baby, while Steve’s strings serenade sweet dreams.
The album ends with the extremely depressing “Heartbreaker”, which tells the story of losing a child, but the circumstances and whose point of view the song is told from, are not totally clear.
I would be lying if I said that “So Familiar” from Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, was everything that I had thought it would be from the first album and the live release. However, I would never even think to say that it isn’t a solid album, because between these two remarkable performers, there is no way it wouldn’t be. Edie’s voice is like laying on soft grass underneath the shade of a tree beside a river that sings the tales of the world without judgment. Steve plays banjo like a leisurely stroll through the autumn leaves on a warm day, even when tearing through solos. Though the album is titled as belonging to Steve and Edie, compared to their other album together, this appears as much less of a collaborative effort and more as and Edie Brickell album that features Steve Martin on most of the tracks. Their fairly traditional sound, has become more of a bluegrass crossover, with moments of country and even electronic flavors. This album is suited for fans of Martin or Brickell and those who like American hybrids. That’s What I Know, So That’s What You Know!! Enjoy!!
HAPPY LISTENING!!!! 😉