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Abigail Washburn

City of Refuge (Rounder)

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., March 18, 2011

SXSW Records

Abigail Washburn

City of Refuge (Rounder)

Other women grab the spotlight in the world of Americana, but no one possesses the courageous vision and songwriting virtuosity of Abigail Washburn. The Nashville-based banjo player's City of Refuge is another jump forward after her work with the Sparrow Quartet, which featured Béla Fleck and Ben Sollee. This time Washburn gets assistance from guitarist Bill Frisell, My Morning Jacket's Carl Broemel, Decemberist Chris Funk, members of the Old Crow Medicine Show, and Mongolian string band Hanggai to craft an album that manages to look forward and backward simultaneously. She delivers contemporary folk à la Shawn Colvin on "Chains," brushes up against the Chinese-inspired chamber music of "Dreams of Nectar," and harkens back to her bluegrass roots with the title track. Filled with a brand of progressive folk music unlike anything you've ever heard, it crackles, sways, and whines, breaking through barriers we didn't know existed while creating a listening experience that's spellbinding. (Thu., 9pm, Antone's)

****

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