krcb header-tagline

support krcb button 2

Text Size

First Listen: Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, 'Echo In The Valley'

Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn are two of the least complacent musicians around. With skill that can border on otherworldly, both push boundaries, stretching their sound beyond bluegrass, across continents and into everything from prog-rock to Eastern instrumentation.

They're also a married couple, which only enhances the seamlessness of their interplay: Echo in the Valley, their new album together, often sounds like the work of considerably more than two people.

According to the pair's self-imposed rules for the project, it actually can't be. Those rules include a banjos-only policy for instrumentation, with no guest players and nothing on record that the two can't duplicate in a live setting. Echo in the Valley is Fleck and Washburn's second album as a duo — the first, a self-titled set from 2014, won a Grammy — and it quickly jells into a comforting but inventive swirl of traditional tunes and sweeping originals.

Though an instrumental medley heads down a nearly eight-minute detour, Echo in the Valley provides a grand and inviting vocal showcase for Washburn, who remains a warm, relatable, versatile singer. The album just keeps surprising, whether in the restraint of "Let It Go," the subtly warped solos of "Don't Let It Bring You Down" or the alternately worn and soaring blues of "My Home's Across the Blue Ridge Mountains."

For all its sonic detours, Echo in the Valley comes from a consistent place thematically, with songs that sing the praises of hard-won perspective and hands outstretched to the vulnerable. As musicians and as songwriters, Fleck and Washburn are predisposed to embrace the entire world — its sounds and its occupants alike. Echo in the Valley ties the many threads of their interests into a work that dazzles without sacrificing a shred of approachability.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Original Source

Music News

Default Image
Dec 15

Bob Boilen's Top 50 Songs of 2017

Despite the flood of new music in 2017, there were songs I came back to over and over again. I still star-rate my downloaded songs in iTunes (the main reason I don't care to migrate to Spotify), so…
Default Image
Dec 15

'I Speak To Everybody Who Is Even Remotely Like Me': Eminem on 'Revival'

Eminem has been called many things; brilliant, controversial, shocking.
Default Image
Dec 15

Eminem on 'Revival': 'I Speak To Everybody'

Eminem has been called many things; brilliant, controversial, shocking.
Default Image
Dec 15

The Dominican Sisters Of Mary Highlights The 'True Beauty' Of Christmas With New Album

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist established their community more than 20 years ago in Ann Arbor, Mich. where music is a daily part of the Catholic nuns' lives in the…
Default Image
Dec 15

The Dominican Sisters Of Mary Shares The 'True Beauty' Of Christmas With New Album

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist established their community more than 20 years ago in Ann Arbor, Mich. where music is a daily part of the Catholic nuns' lives in the…