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Soon Be Time

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Album Review

Bruce Molsky's sixth album Soon Be Time is another sweet and plainspoken exploration of various American music traditions, with the occasional foray into the British Isles and over to Eastern Europe just to keep things interesting. Equally accomplished on fiddle, guitar, and clawhammer banjo, and possessed of a singing voice that has nothing to recommend it except clarity, strength, and unerring pitch, Molsky plays tunes and sings lyrics that will move you in ways that may surprise you. Why is it, for example, that his voice-and-fiddle arrangement of "Lazy John" should be so touching? There's nothing deep or even especially sentimental about the words — it's something about the melody, and the way he sings and plays it, his voice and fiddle spinning out the tune in unison. Then there's the rollicking hillbilly jazz of "Buckdancer's Choice," which he plays on guitar in a fingerpicked style that evokes Merle Travis and the Piedmont blues master Etta Baker at the same time. He turns up an extra-archaic Kentucky version of the old English sea song "Golden Vanity" (here titled "Golden Willow Tree"), and manages to maintain the listener's interest through versions of both "Cotton-Eyed Joe" and "Forked Deer" by invoking the playing styles of Fred Cockerham and Ed Haley, respectively. There really is not a tune here that won't whet your appetite for more.

Biography

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

During the 1970s there was a resurgence of interest in the traditional music of rural America that has come to be known generically as "old-time" music, particularly in the driving, rhythmic string band sound of the southern Appalachian and Blue Ridge mountains. Like many people who discovered this music during their high school and college years, New York City native...
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Soon Be Time, Bruce Molsky
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