Stuart Duncan

Stuart Duncan

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On his solo debut, veteran sideman Stuart Duncan calls in some favors and is joined by such eminent guests as Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten, and fellow Nashville Bluegrass Band members Roland White and Pat Enright for a program that can be pretty cleanly divided into traditional bluegrass fare and jazzier, new-acoustic material. In fact, it almost sounds as if the model for this album were Tony Rice's first Rounder album, which was similarly divided but hung together a bit better. Duncan is a brilliant fiddler and really shines on straightforward traditional stuff like "Lee Highway Blues" and, especially, "Brushy Fork of John's Creek/Mason's Apron," which he plays in duet with banjoist Fleck. His own compositions tend to lack focus: "G Forces" lasts over five minutes and sounds a bit like something you might hear on Phish Unplugged (the finger-popping electric bass solo is certainly unique for a bluegrass project), and "The Passing" is slow and mushy. Duncan's "Thai Clips" is tightly constructed and nicely played, though. He sings winningly on "Lonely Moon," and his fiddle/banjo duet with Alan O'Bryant on "Two O'Clock in the Morning" ends things with a bang. Recommended despite a few weak spots.

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