12 Songs, 45 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Punch Brothers’ picker, Noam Pikelny, branches out on his own for the first time since his 2004 debut, In the Maze. His 2011 sophomore outing, Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail, further emphasizes his five-string prowess. It’s a talent so awesome it prompted Steve Martin to award Pikelny the first Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music and landed him a spot on The Late Show with David Letterman. Martin joins Pikelny here on a rendition of the Appalachian standard “Cluck Old Hen.” The sprightly opener, “Jim Thompson’s Horse,” kicks off Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail as Pikelny’s fingers dance dexterously up and down the fretboard, slowing to dance with a mandolin as a stand-up bass keeps things grounded. “My Mother Thinks I’m a Lawyer” follows with a tinge of Tin Pan Alley–inspired sass before Crooked Still’s Aoife O’Donovan pipes in on “Fish and Bird” with a lilting vocal reminiscent of Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins. Speaking of Nickel Creek, Chris Thile joins in the fun on “Bear Dog Grit.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Punch Brothers’ picker, Noam Pikelny, branches out on his own for the first time since his 2004 debut, In the Maze. His 2011 sophomore outing, Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail, further emphasizes his five-string prowess. It’s a talent so awesome it prompted Steve Martin to award Pikelny the first Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music and landed him a spot on The Late Show with David Letterman. Martin joins Pikelny here on a rendition of the Appalachian standard “Cluck Old Hen.” The sprightly opener, “Jim Thompson’s Horse,” kicks off Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail as Pikelny’s fingers dance dexterously up and down the fretboard, slowing to dance with a mandolin as a stand-up bass keeps things grounded. “My Mother Thinks I’m a Lawyer” follows with a tinge of Tin Pan Alley–inspired sass before Crooked Still’s Aoife O’Donovan pipes in on “Fish and Bird” with a lilting vocal reminiscent of Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins. Speaking of Nickel Creek, Chris Thile joins in the fun on “Bear Dog Grit.”

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Ratings and Reviews

4.8 out of 5
30 Ratings
30 Ratings
E.Siddhartha.J ,

His Banjo is a machine gun....of love.

Once every 1000 generations a player comes along of such overwhelming power and genius as to bring a complete revolution in thought and practice.
The Chicago Cubs are still waiting for that player.
The record is awesome. How awesome? I had an early-mix version that Noam sent me, and I still bought the final one on iTunes. In these difficult economic times, I still shelled out $9.99.
iTunes charges 9Cents more for this record than for his previous recording, "In the Maze". It is definitely worth that extra 9cents.

celticcandyxoxo ,

Funny Or Die!!!

Bought this album after seeing the Funny or Die video - really cool music, amazing banjo playing. I really like Punch Brothers but it's cool to have the banjo as the focus. The Tom Waits cover is gorgeous and Steve Martin is great on the duet with Noam! Can't wait to hear more from Noam, if you like the Punch Bros you'll like Noam PIkelny too!

Here's what i think ,

A great young banjo player extends his reach

Noam Pikelny has proven again that he is a banjo player on par with some of the best in the world. "Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail" offers the clearest evidence so far that the sky is the limit for Pikelny, whose band Punch Brothers is also intent on stretching the boundaries of what acoustic music can be.
Well-steeped in the traditional sound of Scruggs and Crowe, Pikelny's melodic interpretations might remind some listeners that the road taken by pioneer newgrass pickers now has lots of traffic.
The comparisons between Béla Fleck and Pikelny might be simply because the two have moved toward mastery of the 5 string banjo via the same path, but as far as my ear is concerned, the similarities end there. Fleck sounds like Fleck, and Pikelny, with this recording, establishes a sound that is all his own. His tone is his own. his phrasing is his own. But the sound is so dramatic and fresh, that one might expect young pickers to begin emulating some of what this record presents.
Traditionalists (not a dirty word) will especially enjoy "Pineywoods' "All Git Out" "Cluck Old Hen" ""Bear Dog Grit."
Pikelny also takes a light-hearted, self-effacing look at professional banjo playing in "My Mother Thinks I'm a Lawyer" and drops in the nicest version of a Tom Waits song ever on, "Fish and Bird."
The texture of the recording from song to song changes enough to keep the listener interested and excited throughout all 12 tracks. Pikelny plays his own converted 1941 Gibson PB-7 throughout, with the exception of "Fish and Bird" which features Noam on one of the late John Hartford's original banjos, on loan to him from - Béla Fleck.

About Noam Pikelny

A virtuoso five-string banjo player, Noam Pikelny was born February 27, 1981 in Chicago, Illinois. His childhood, he has said lightheartedly, was split between the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field and the Old Town School of Folk Music. He was already playing in traditional bluegrass bands while he was in high school, and went on to study music at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, after which he moved to Boulder, Colorado. He joined the Colorado ensemble Leftover Salmon in 2002 (he remained with the band until 2004), and two years later he issued his first solo album, In the Maze, on Compass Records. Pikelny relocated to Nashville in 2006 and began playing with New Grass Revival bassist and singer John Cowan. He also started playing with mandolinist Chris Thile that same year in the progressive chamber bluegrass band Punch Brothers. His second solo album, Beat the Devil & Carry a Rail, appeared from Compass Records in 2011, and earned a nomination for Best Bluegrass Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards. He earned a second nomination in 2015 for his chart-topping 2013 release Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe. In 2017 he released his fourth LP and first proper solo outing (as in no accompaniment), Universal Favorite. ~ Steve Leggett

HOMETOWN
Chicago, IL
BORN
February 27, 1981

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