Black Cove

Tunes From a Banjo Player's Life

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Banjo player T. William Smith likes to keep things simple, and one of the joys of Tunes from a Banjo Player's Life is its simplicity. Whether an instrumental or a song, the idea seems to be to present it as is, lightly adorned with banjos, flutes, and guitars. Neither Smith nor anyone else involved seems interested in being an innovator or interested in adding "neo" to traditional. At the same time, there's nothing on Tunes from a Banjo Player's Life that hints at rusticity. In other words, Smith's version of "Lady Gay" and "Old Christmas" offer a solid introduction to listeners unaccustomed to the rougher edges of traditional music. A song like "Johanna" rolls along at an easy, jaunty pace, with flutes adding a nice, light flourish that many will associate with Celtic music. The vocals, by Smith and Sarah Smith, are equally disarming. Most of the album, however, is made up of instrumentals like the title cut, allowing the tuneful music to flow freely. While many performers choose to record their own music today and issue it in a small way, few go about it as unpretentiously as Smith and his cohorts on Tunes from a Banjo Player's Life. An enjoyable outing.