Alison Brown

Stolen Moments

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Gifted, genre-hopping, and endlessly creative, Alison Brown has been endlessly compared to her male equivalent, Béla Fleck. While she shares the same broad view of bluegrass as well as the bottomless pit of talent, her warm, plucky, and distinctly melodic style of banjo playing is far more reminiscent of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band legend John McEuen. On Stolen Moments, the Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist dishes up 11 slices of Celtic, jazz, and newgrass that effortlessly blend the rural with the contemporary. Brown may rely on numerous guests this time around (including Sam Bush and Stuart Duncan), but it's longtime collaborator John Burr's piano that she sounds most comfortable around -- the two converse with such fluidity on some of the jazzier numbers that they may as well have combined both instruments into one. Highlights include the Celtic-tinged "Magnificent Seven" and "Carrowkeel" (the latter features some fine low whistle playing from Seamus Egan), a refreshingly earnest cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound" (sung by Indigo Girls' Amy Ray and Emily Saliers), and a smoky rendition of Jimi Hendrix's "Angel" (sung by labelmate Beth Nielsen Chapman). However, the most alluring piece appears at the end of Stolen Moments; the self-penned mandolin, conga, and banjo-driven "Musette for a Palindrome" is so unlike anything else on the record that one can only hope that it's merely a teaser for the next. More like this please.

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