This is the newest and onliest by Steve Martin (yes that one) and Edie Brickell (Ms. not-so-new Bohemian and wife of Paul Simon).
Martin plays banjo and Ms. Brickell sings.
This album grew on me. When I first listened to a few pre-release samples, I was like “can’t wait til this is out!” The day came, I downloaded it and “meh” was my first reaction.
But now after maybe 10 listens, I keep on listening.
This is not a knock-your-socks-off CD. It’s quiet and happy.
I think this is at least part of what Americana music is or should be. An interesting mix of old style with some new-fangled lyrics. Hard to imagine Stephen Foster writing a song with the line: “When you get to Asheville, send me an email.” But it works.
Some of the lyrics are pretty dark. Babies in suitcases thrown off trains? “Yes She Did, Yes She Did” chronicles a suicide.
Fortunately the sad stuff is sung and played upbeat so it’s not as maudlin as it might be. Brickell still has that little smirk in her voice but she mostly sings seriously. I don’t know what to call her technique where she lets her voice fade out and off pitch at the end of a musical phrase but it actually works.
Martin’s banjo is not virtuoso but he is a clean and appropriate player for this music. All this is original with lyrics by Brickell and music written by both.
If you had asked me a week ago what I thought, I might have suggested not buying. But now it hardly comes out of my CD player.