Chris Thile

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

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One has to marvel at the recording sessions the folks at Sugar Hill put together. Start with a young, hotshot mandolin player, Chris Thile, then add the cream of new acoustic players, fiddler Stuart Duncan, banjoist Bela Fleck, and dobroist Jerry Douglas, and pack the whole crew into the studio. Add to this a superb title, Not All Who Wander Are Lost, and it's impossible to go wrong. The breezy "Song for a Young Queen" is a joyful opener, laying the groundwork for 60 minutes of innovative acoustic picking. Bach meets Earl Scruggs on the sprightly "Riddles in the Dark," a duo with Bela Fleck featuring a complex intermingling of banjo and mandolin. The peaceful "Sinai to Canaan, Part 1" quietly rises and falls, with Edgar Meyer's bow and bass adding an eerie bottom end. The shifting rhythms, different combinations of instruments, and slightly mysterious air mirror the many ups and downs of a long journey. Jeff Coffin throws the sounds of the tenor sax into the mix on "Club G.R.O.S.S.," a jazzy open-ended piece that might be described as experimental acoustic. Several songs like "Raining at Sunset" and "Big Sam Thompson" clock in at over five minutes, allowing everyone plenty of room for lengthy solos. Not All Who Wander Are Lost is the perfect album for a lazy Sunday afternoon and will please anyone who loves rich, layered, acoustic music.

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