How many diverse sounds can you evoke from the banjo? When it’s Alison Brown holding the instrument, the answer is ad infinitum. But she limits her creative stretching to 12 songs and one bonus track on her new CD. “Most listeners don’t know how to hear what a banjo is doing, but in the context of a familiar tune, they are able to hear the voice of the instrument and understand what’s unique about how it’s played,” Brown says.
The progressive five-string picker demonstrates that statement with six covers of pop and rock classics from the ’70s and ’80s (“Dance With Me,” “Feels So Good,” “Time After Time,” “Carolina In The Pines,” “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” and the deluxe edition bonus track “What’s Going On” with Keb’ Mo’). The Compass Records co-founder also created seven original tunes that drives home the dynamic, introspective, and romantic depths the banjo can attain. To add to the mastery of the project, she assembled an all-star cast of musicians including Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, Colin Hay, uke master Jake Shimabukuro, legendary studio drummer Steve Gadd, fiddler Stuart Duncan, Irish guitarist phenom John Doyle, bassist Todd Phillips, guitarist Jim Obion, guitarist Rob Ickes, and pianists Will Barrow, Joe Davidian, and John Jarvis.
Produced with husband Garry West, Brown breaks new ground with this collection of songs that make the banjo sing with beauty. (Compass Records, 916 19th Ave. S, Nashville, TN 37212, www.compassrecords.com.)BC