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The Company You Keep
Artist: Alison Brown
Label: Compass Records
Alison Brown’s tenth album features a lot of what we’ve come to expect from the Compass Records’ co-founder: banjo driven instrumentals that cross a myriad of styles, feature a plethora of talented guest artists, and evocative tunes that paint a landscape in the mind of the listener.
“Crazy Ivan” has a bluegrass feel a la Nickel Creek combined with a piano solo, almost like some of the work Bruce Hornsby did with Bela Fleck. “Rocket Summer” is a lighter, almost whimsical track, featuring John Burr’s piano work in the vein of Vince Guaraldi. Mairtin O’Connor’s “The Road West” gets a conversion from Irish traditional to unhurried southern traveling music, with improv added.
“Under the (Five) Wire” switches gear with a piano melody that was written for the banjo. “Over Nine Waves” feels like a sailing tune. “The Clean Plate Club” recalls the stop action silent film era, almost as if it had been recorded for _The Little Rascals_.
The title of this disc is inspired by a line from _Don Quixote_: “Tell me the company you keep and I’ll tell you what you are.” Based on that, I’d say Brown is a gifted musician surrounded by several others who make music for the sheer joy of it.
Brian A. Smith