Billy Strings, "Home" (Rounder)
The lightning fast fingers of Billy Strings have tapped him as the future of bluegrass music for a few years now. But it is his creative musical storytelling, paired with solid vocals on "Home" that should seal the deal, pleasing fans of the genre and creating some new ones.
Strings, a 26-year-old Michigan-born multi-instrumentalist, is the perfect blend of pure talent and pluck. He's comfortable bringing his indie-rock influence into his latest release and weaves it well while fleshing out inventive tracks.
Songs like "Hollow Heart" are beautifully delivered, but traditional bluegrass in approach and structure. Where Strings makes his true mark is on the title track, a beefy seven-minute-plus song that builds from a slow burn to race car pace, crashing into a magical collection of guitar, mandolin and light percussion. It matches the song's premise of challenging that in which one finds comfort.
The earworm here is album opener "Taking Water," replete with beautiful banjo and String's deft work on acoustic guitar, his staple instrument. It can be hard for even the most skilled bluegrass musicians to break through tradition and reach a wider audience. It takes an acknowledgement of the past but a willingness to explore the musical path ahead.
Thankfully, Billy Strings can do it all.
Ron Harris is at https://www.twitter.com/Journorati