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The Company You Keep

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iTunes Review

For decades, Alison Brown’s style of banjo has constituted its own subgenre, neatly straddling the lines between bluegrass and jazz. Her recent releases have introduced new subtleties, making her even harder to pigeonhole (though no less easy to enjoy). The Company You Keep is a typically engaging and occasionally challenging album, embroidering her melodies with quirky chord choices and rhythmic nuances. Brown’s jazzier side comes through in songs like “Crazy Ivan” (distinguished by its exotic feel and odd meter), “The Road West” (an uplifting tune suggestive of a soundtrack cut), and “The Clean Plate Club” (crisply moving to a ‘30s-style groove). The rippling “Under the (Five) Wire” gives her bluegrass roots more exposure, while the lullaby-like “Drawing Down the Mood” and the traditional “Forky On the Water” are tinged with Celtic shadings. As ever, Brown emphasizes taste over speed in her playing, finding sympathetic support from the likes of bassist/husband Garry West and pianist John R. Burr. The Company You Keep is a class act from start to finish.

Customer Reviews

The Company You Keep

Had the privilege of seeing Alison in concert at The Grand Ole Opry this week, and I just loved her music. This album is so unique. Even those not fond of country music will enjoy it.

Serendipitous Banjo

I read a review of this album in the June 2009 edition of Banjo Newsletter and took a chance on buying without listening to any tracks. I am so pleased with this purchase and as a budding banjo player myself I am inspired by the smoothness and creativity in Alison's playing. If you like Bela Fleck you will love this smooth jazzy album with occasional hints of a Bluegrass heritage. This music leaves you feeling good after listening.


Born: August 7, 1962 in Hartford, CT

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Progressive bluegrass banjoist Alison Brown made her name not only as a virtuosic instrumentalist, but as an accomplished jazz-influenced composer, a combination that earned plenty of comparisons to Béla Fleck and David Grisman. Brown began playing the banjo before reaching her teens and developed quickly, winning numerous contests and even getting a chance to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. She was also an excellent student, and temporarily left music to attend Harvard University; following graduation,...
Full Bio

Customer Ratings