For many years I’ve scanned the albums of Jody Stecher and partner Kate Brislin for overlooked gems of early bluegrass and folk music. There was always a clarity and power in the renditions that brought out the beauty of the tune. The new album Dreams from the Overlook, I’m happy to say, follows this tradition.
Listening to this album for the first time, as one does in this day and age from my phone sans liner notes of any kind, I kept thinking “How did I miss all these great old time songs and tunes? Why have I never heard these songs? These songs are so good, why are they not tunes I regularly hear in jam sessions?”
Reading the liner notes revealed that they are all originals from Stecher and he’s tapped into the deep tradition of old time music where familiar chord progressions and simple melodies walk hand-in-hand with original twists and turns yielding a deeply satisfying cornucopia of musical delights. The tunes have the simple and satisfying melodies of classic fiddle tunes and songs. They also feature lyrics that are witty, insightful and easy to sing along with.
The supporting cast of musicians who work brilliantly to serve the melodies include Tony Trischka, Ethan Jodiewicz, Tristan Clarridge, Keith Little, Tashina Clarridge, Kate Brislin and many others. Any of these players could fill an album with fancy licks, but they focus their energy on the melodies and bring them to life with an infectious joy that you can’t avoid.
Pete Seeger once said “Any fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple”. I would add that it takes genius and heart, and Jody Stecher has both in abundance. Dreams from the Overlook is a double CD treasure trove of songs and tunes that feel both fresh and familiar.