Billy & Bryn Bright
Reviewed by Christopher Hess, Fri., June 7, 2002
Billy & Bryn Bright(Blue Corn) From the outset, this self-titled debut is a study in careful, joyful musicianship. Opener "Guillermo" is subtle and understated in both melody and stringwork, but still leaves a lasting imprint. "Vegan in the Woods" is a knockout, and it's no small feat that Bright holds his own alongside Bad Liver Danny Barnes' banjo work. And it goes on. Throughout the album, surrounded by some of the brightest stars in the bluegrass and acoustic music sky -- including Peter Rowan, Tony Rice, and the inimitable Vassar Clements on fiddle -- the Brights and "second fiddle" Eamon McLoughlin compel fluid, brilliant fretwork from their guests and themselves time and time again. Clements and McLoughlin's tandem fiddles on "Jerusalem Cafe" are eerie and beautiful, as they are on "Timberline, Mine," and Rice and Rowan on twin guitars plumb depths otherwise unreached. The songs are not traditional bluegrass, nor are they anything else, possessing as they do the easy fluidity of a Bela Fleck jam and the respectful attention of a Bill Monroe gospel song. And Bryn shines, too, her bass holding it all together and adding substantial voice to the low end, particularly on "Masquerade Waltz." When you get all these people on the same album, it's an opportunity to make the most of, and Billy & Bryn Bright have done just that.