Building on the “ship” pun of the title, it can be said that listening to this recording has more in common with sailing a coastline than sailing across the sea. At sea, the scenery rarely changes, whereas coastal sailing offers something new around each headland or in each new harbor. So too, does this recording offer an ever-changing scene with each track and often within each track.
This is the second release from the dynamic trio of resonator guitarist Rob Ickes, bassist Dave Pomeroy, and fiddler/mandolinist Andy Leftwich. All three of them can scarce be bettered on their instruments and with that level of skill comes the desire to take musical chances, confident that what they attempt can and will work. Which, it usually does.
There are ten tunes and one vocal here, and as noted above, those eleven tracks reveal something new at each turn. The funk of the title tune gives way to a bluegrassy “Just A Rumor,” followed by a slow and flowing cover of jazz guitar great Ralph Towner’s “Anthem.” Then some more funk, a touch of rock, and some more jazz, followed by Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” with pop-like vocals from Jon Randall Stewart. Then there’s a propulsive Leftwich fiddle tune, “Up And At It,” and a little later on is the recording’s masterwork, “A Night In Calgary.” That one opens with a minute or so of middle eastern and classical elements by Leftwich on solo mandolin, quickly rippled arpeggios, and shimmering tremelo. Ickes and Pomeroy then join, and the tune alternates brilliant solos and more classical-like interludes.
Brothership has very little classic bluegrass to it, but, with the exception of “You Can’t Know,” an improvised piece that goes on too long and nowhere in particular, it is a wonderfully executed, highly listenable recording. Recommended. (ResoRevolution, Inc., P.O. Box 682551, Franklin, TN 37064, www.resorevolution.com.) BW