Saturday, March 19, 2011

Steve Martin Does It Again

Over the Christmas holidays I read Steve Martin's novel, An Object of Beauty, which gives an inside look to the machinations of the art scene. It is itself a work of art.

This past week, Martin released his second bluegrass CD, displaying his virtuosity once more with the five-string banjo... as well as creative presentation. I mean, every facet of this release is nuanced to an aesthetically high degree. It's not just a fancy package to sell a CD. Clearly, Martin wants every aspect of this project to complement the others like a high class five-course meal, including the very finest wine. There's also a wonderful booklet with that little extra background for the songs, equally delightful.

The CD is called Rare Bird Alert and clearly Martin is having fun. The band he has recorded with is the talented Steep Canyon Rangers, but there are also some special guests including Sir Paul, who hardly sounds like a Brit in the song Best Love which Martin wrote for his wife. How apropos that McCartney would be invited to croon a love song.

I've given Rare Bird Alert two spins this week and will continue to give it personal air time. The thirteen songs in this package include Atheists Don't Have No Songs, which I first saw on YouTube last fall. As many bluegrass lovers know, gospel music is an recurring theme in the genre. Martin felt that since Christians of all stripes have their music in its various forms, atheists ought to have one, too, and so he wrote this one... performed in that men's quartet gospel style. Guaranteed to make you grin.

Rare Bird Alert is saturated with Martinesque wit. One song, for example, is called Women Like to Slow Dance, but it's played superfast. Another is titled Go Away, Stop, Turn Around, Come Back.

All in all, it's an essential recording that will be at home in any bluegrass collection or Steve Martin collection... or both.

It seems there are numerous YouTube vids featuring Atheists Don't Have No Songs, but I liked this one from the 2010 New Orleans Jazzfest.

No comments: