Bill Evans & Megan Lynch,
Let's Do Something...
(Native & Fine, 2009)

The banjo is a famously -- notoriously -- limited instrument, but it's very good at what it does: carry traditional and trad-based music. Sometimes, however, banjoists lose patience with the restraints and push their instrument into places it has not gone before, with mixed results.

Banjo picker Bill Evans's background is in bluegrass, but Let's Do Something... bows not at all to the genre, even as Megan Lynch's fiddle has the sound, at once lush and austere, that one associates with British folk-revival masters of the instrument. The opening cut, Deb Talan and Steve Tannen's lyrical "Rocks & Water," has some of the flavor of Anglo-Celtic music.

Mostly, though, the CD explores various forms of vaguely folk-flavored pop, some of it from the pens of Mark Knopfler (the superb "Song for Sonny Liston"), Van Morrison (a perhaps not entirely well-considered reworking of "Into the Mystic") and Nick Drake ("Northern Sky" -- I am fated forever to find his appeal utterly inexplicable). Much of the other material resembles the sort of thing you'd hear from coffeehouse singer-songwriters whose roots are in other coffeehouse singer-songwriters. I am not a fan of such, but that doesn't mean, of course, that you can't be.

Lynch is a strong singer in the dusky alto vein. Besides banjo, Evans plays -- well -- a variety of acoustic guitars. From where I stand, there's nothing wrong here that better and more consistent material wouldn't cure.

review by
Jerome Clark

2 May 2009

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