Tim O'Brien

Chicken & Egg

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At the nearly 20-album mark, Tim O'Brien has proven his mettle as one of the premier folk/bluegrass artists in America. He keeps cranking out new songs tested over time on the road, plays wonderfully on a variety of stringed instruments (acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, or bouzouki), and always has a good sense of humor. This collection of tunes recorded in Nashville should delight anyone who has come within ear's length of his music, showcasing why he's one of the best at what he does. Using a core band with bassist Mike Bub or Dennis Crouch, fellow string player Stuart Duncan (violin, cello, mandolin), and drummer John Gardner, O'Brien makes headstrong music with a light-hearted air. The funny, cautionary tale of Adam and Eve in "You Ate the Apple" sets a good tone, but then O'Brien and friends jam on classic traditional songs like "Suzanna" and Woody Guthrie's bouncy "The Sun Jumped Up" featuring veteran harmonica player Ray Bonneville. Of the songs O'Brien wrote or co-wrote, themes of domesticity, brokenhearted blues, and sinner/saint dualities creep in. The blue collar anthem "Workin'" could easily be a standard down the road. Vocally, the leader shouts and croons just a bit, but essentially produces down-home music without overt Southern or mountain inflections. Chicken & Egg is another triumph for a truly great musician, conceptually and otherwise, and is dedicated to his recently deceased father Frank A. O'Brien, Jr.

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