Friday, April 26, 2013

Album Review: Love Has Come for You, Steve Martin & Edie Brickell

This review was written by request.  A friend emailed me a link to John Scalzi's blog post about the album (here) and demanded a review.  I obliged, being a fan of bluegrass and a self-proclaimed reviewer of life.  So here ya go, Bill!

Steve Martin is an adept banjo player.  He's also acclaimed for several other things.  Edie Breckell is, according to Google, Paul Simon's wife, and also a folk singer that I've never heard of.  The two collaborated and released Love Has Come for You, a relatively tame but entertaining bluegrass album.  I've reviewed this like an anthology, critiquing each track.  Also, you can listen to the entire album on Youtube right now by clicking here.
When You Get to Asheville – A gentle opening track, perfect for a sunrise.  The banjo work is reminiscent of the sounds I can hear when walking through the Appalachian hills, accompanied by a voice made for country/bluegrass.  The song stays mellow and begs for a crescendo but we’re left wanting.

Get Along Stray Dog – A faster rag, almost Arabic sounding in the middle.  This is what comes to mind when thinking about Martin’s bluegrass songs, light-hearted and fun.

Love Has Come For You – Brickell’s voice really hits the twang here, gushing on love for a newborn baby that was at first unwanted.  Style is similar to the opening track.  This is the title track, which definitely sets the tone for the album up to this point.

Friend of Mine – Relatively unremarkable.

Siamese Cat – Haha.  Great opening line.  This song rises above the minimalist style that has been apparent so far, adding some “ooh-la-las” and more background music.  Still leaves me wanting to hear a more robust sound.  I do like the story this song tells.

Yes She Did – The darkest song that’s been on the album so far.  A mother, married to a drunk, throws herself in the river.  That’s pretty much it.  There’s no musing, just matter-of-fact presentation.  Kind of how a lot of old timey folk/bluegrass music does.  A short lick that’s catchy.

Sarah Jane and the Iron Mountain Baby – More upbeat and fun, with a chorus that has Martin (presumably?) lending a vocal harmony to.  I actually heard this song first on the Bluegrass Junction Sirius station.  The twang shines here, too.  Another fun song.

Fighter – I like the beat of this song, and the minor chords really add to the mood.  This is one of my favorite tracks on the record.

King of Boys – This is a bit on the ethereal side, just slightly.  Some reverb might sound pretty cool here.  The cello work in the background is a nice addition, too.

She’s Gonna Shine – An optimistic song, which is increasingly rare in the bluegrass genre.  A simple song, but nonetheless pleasant.

Who You Gonna Take? – No.  Well… the opening is annoying, but the song improves.  The music is perfectly fitting, but I just don’t like this style of talk-repetitive stuff.

Shawnee – The chorus has a line that says, “You know my creepy cousin with the handlebar moustache?  He opened up a cold one and sat down on my lap.”  Great music work and fun lyrics.  Nice beat, too.  One of my favorites on the album.

Remember Me This Way – A suitable ending to the record.  The song has a bit of finality to it.  Nothing special here.
The focus of the album is obviously Martin’s banjo work and Brickell’s vocals.  Martin plays a five-finger traditional style banjo.  His work is tight and polished and completely traditional.  Brickell sings with a powerful voice, but not explosive.  Her voice is heavy on the twang, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Together the two create some great sounds.

Overall, Love Has Come for You is an easily accessible bluegrass album. It does a good job of hitting the traditional mountain music sounds, but it also does a pretty good job of telling some modern stories, too. There are a few notable highlights, but some songs that fall into obscurity, too. If you’re looking to try something different, Love Has Come for You is probably not it. But if you’re looking for some polished studio work and a solid bluegrass record, especially with a head nod to Appalachian music, look no further than this album.

See also the Rolling Stone review (3-star) here.


Anonymous said...

Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians!!! I guess you had to grow up in Dallas. Thanks for the review. I'm going to have a listen now.

logankstewart said...

@cyclebabble: I suppose so. Hope you enjoyed the listen to.