Reviews

Steven Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers’ ‘The Long Awaited Album’


By Josh Schott

For decades Steve Martin has entertained audiences with his acting and comedy. Nowadays he’s spending more time impressing them with his banjo picking. The acclaimed actor has been consistently churning out new bluegrass music alongside frequent collaborators Edie Brickell and The Steep Canyon Rangers. His last album So Familiar released in 2015 went No.1 on the US Top Bluegrass Albums chart, marking his fifth No.1 bluegrass album. Now he returns with new music again alongside The Steep Canyon Rangers with the cheekily titled The Long Awaited Album.

This album has many reasons to put a smile on your face. You have stunning instrumentals such as “Office Supplies,” “So Familiar” and “Angeline The Barista” where you can really get an appreciation of the musicality on display by the Rangers and Martin. It’s like honey to the ears. Then you have the quirky and “out there” songs like “Nights In The Lab” and “Strangest Christmas Yet” that show off Martin’s trademark zany humor. The latter in particular has some really funny lines about the sights and sounds you can hear around the family table at the holidays.

The group is just as entertaining on more serious songs (which are still pretty light-hearted) too.  “Santa Fe” is an absolute ditty that will get your toes tapping along with it. The hymnal “On The Water” is soothing to the ears and “Girl From River Run” is classical bluegrass storytelling (with a quirky Martin songwriting twist of course). The comically tinged break-up song “Caroline” might be the album’s highlight, as it’s both a great display of songwriting and comedic one-liners. It’s also a perfect example of this group’s demeanor: fun, easy-going and an impressive display of instrumentation.

The Long-Awaited Album is one of those albums that will put a smile on your face after you’re done listening to it. If you’re looking for bluegrass that feels modern and fresh, this is the album for you. It showcases all of the best qualities of the genre, displaying dynamic instrumentation and witty songwriting that will hook you right into the song. Most importantly it shows how fun bluegrass can be too.

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