Like the acrobatic artwork of the band’s CD cover, the Infamous Stringdusters continue to teeter on the highwire between various genres with grace and smoothness. On this sixth studio project, the innovative musicians took a different direction. Instead of the familiar sound of Travis Book, Jeremy Garrett, and Andy Hall, this disc displays the contributions from a dozen of the top female voices in bluegrass, Americana, and alternate string music.
They introduce Ladies & Gentlemen with the opening slow rock feel on “Listen,” featuring the vocals of Joan Osborne followed on subsequent tracks by Lee Ann Womack, Sarah Jarosz, Joss Stone, Sara Watkins, Celia Woodsmith, Nicki Bluhm, Claire Lynch, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Aoife O’Donovan, Abigail Washburn, and Jennifer Hartswick. For the first time, the Stringdusters brought aboard Grammy-winning producer Chris Goldsmith for the quintet’s sixth studio CD. Goldsmith found some different musical colors when he convinced the band to plug the acoustic instruments into guitar amplifiers. The band—Andy Falco (guitar), Travis Book (bass), Jeremy Garrett (fiddle), Chris Pandolfi (banjo), and Andy Hall (resonator guitar)—laid down its always creative and exploratory instrumentation on the 12 original tunes with help from Isan Fitchuk on drums and Jennifer Hartswick, who also jazzed up a couple of compositions with her trumpet. If you love the way the Stringdusters stretch the genres of bluegrass, then this CD is a must for your collection. (Compass Records, 916 19th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212, www.thestringdusters.com.)BC