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Album Review

Bluegrass guitar demigod Bryan Sutton conceived this project as an opportunity to reunite some of the many ensembles he's worked with and record one or two tracks with each of them, "almost live" (with a minimum of retakes or overdubs) in the studio to try to re-create some of the spontaneous energy and edge of live performance. And he succeeded admirably. His guests are as accomplished and varied as Pete Wernick and Tim O'Brien of Hot Rize, Béla Fleck, Mark Schatz, Sam Bush, and Russ Barenberg. Many of the numbers sound like 1980s-era newgrass or Tony Rice-style "new acoustic music," and the tracks played in that style account for some of the loveliest moments on the disc: the Sutton original "Morning Top" is one such, as is "Big Island Hornpipe," which features a stunning melodic banjo solo from Noam Pikelny. But there are other styles and flavors on offer as well: the briskly strutting Gypsy jazz of "Le Pont de la Moustache," the beautiful Celtic tune "Dark Island" (performed here as a guitar duet with Barenberg), and the refreshingly traditional guitar-mandolin duet number "Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar," which he performs Monroe Brothers-style with mandolin wunderkind Chris Thile. He even pulls out his banjo and plays a very fine clawhammer part (for which he is modestly uncredited) on his original composition "Wonder Valley Gals." All in all, a delightful turn from one of modern bluegrass music's brightest young stars.

Customer Reviews


This is just an awesome collection of tunes played by some of the best acoustic musicians on the planet. You don't want to miss any of these - just get the whole CD.

Almost Live, Bryan Sutton And Friends
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