The Sharp Flatpickers
This impressive band, assembled by ace guitarist Lee Kotick, takes hot picking to a new level on its sophomore album.
Quite a few of these 14 mostly instrumental tracks delve deeply into tradition with fiery instrumentals on public domain chestnuts such as “Fisher’s Hornpipe,” “Blackberry Blossom,” “Arkansas Traveler” and “Red Haired Boy.”
On “Goodbye Again,” guests Ronnie Bowman and Claire Lynch (who wrote the song) serve up an exquisitely heartfelt honky-tonk ballad. “Keep The Lamp On Sadie” (penned by Wyatt Rice) delivers similarly soulful results.
Additional guests, Mallory Eagle (vocals), Kate Lee O’Connor (vocals and twin fiddle) and Forrest O’Connor (vocals). Eagle provides a sultry and magnetic vocal on the band’s reprise of Hoagy Carmichael’s oft-recorded “Georgia.”
Along with Kotick, the Sharp Flatpickers include Gaven Largent (Dobro™), Bryan McDowell (fiddle), Geoff Saunders (bass), Jake Stargel (guitar), Cory Walker (banjo) and Jarrod Walker (mandolin). World-class bass player Mark Schatz also pitches in on several cuts.
As dazzling as all these aforementioned selections are, it’s on songs like the title cut (an instrumental composed by Kotick), “Cold Call Blues” (also by Kotick) and David Grisman’s “Eat My Dust” are where the band takes things to a higher level and creates something extraordinary.
On the title track (Kotick), the Sharp Flatpickers take free flight as the individual players meld their techniques into a series of magically fluid rises, crescendos, ebbs and flows, nuanced with rapid-fire jazz-like modal shifts and syncopations until the listener can actually close his or her eyes and picture dappled sunlight pulsating across rippling waters.
If this doesn’t qualify as stupendous picking, then I don’t know what does.
1177 Alum Ridge Road
NW Willis, VA 24380