Noam Pikelny – Universal Favorite (2017) [HDTracks FLAC 24/96]

Noam Pikelny – Universal Favorite (2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 42:05 minutes | 713 MB | Genre: Country
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Digital Booklet | © New Rounder Records

Noam Pikelny has emerged as the preeminent banjoist of his generation. He is a founding member of Punch Brothers, a 3-time Grammy Nominee and was awarded the first annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass in 2010. The new release features only the man himself, playing lovely originals and covers that showcase his unique approach to the instrument and compositional flair. He recorded them live in the studio without accompaniment, coaxing a wide array of sounds and colors out of his instruments, embracing the challenges and exploring the new possibilities of the solo setting. And, for the first time in his career, Pikelny even sings. It turns out he has a striking deadpan baritone that conveys humor and melancholy in equal measure.

The virtuosic Punch Brothers and ex-Leftover Salmon banjo player’s Rounder Records’ debut, and fourth proper solo outing, Universal Favorite sees Noam Pikelny playing the role of one-man band on a set that covers everything from country and bluegrass to jazz and classical. Recorded live in the studio and comprised of seven solo instrumentals and five songs with vocals – a first for Pikelny – the 12-track set is as organic as they come. “Waveland” opens the proceedings with a delicate wash of elliptical, classical-tinged plucking that evokes the Punch Brothers’ more regal moments, while the traditional “Old Banjo” serves as a fine introduction to Pikelny’s uneven, but immensely likeable baritone, which shares some of the earthy resonance of Jake Xerxes Fussel. Pikelny proves himself to be as deft a guitar player as he is a peerless banjoist on a cover of Carl Butler’s “My Tears Don’t Show,” but it’s his trusty five-string that delivers Universal Favorite’s best moments. The three-part closing act, which includes a pair of disparate but wildly inventive instrumentals, and ends with a homey and spirited rendition of Roger Miller’s “I’ve Been a Long Time Leavin’ (But I’ll Be a Long Time Gone),” perfectly encapsulates the album’s simple, rough-hewn charm.

01 – Waveland
02 – Old Banjo
03 – Sugar Maple
04 – Folk Bloodbath
05 – Hen Of The Woods
06 – My Tears Don’t Show
07 – The Great Falls
08 – Moretown Hop
09 – Sweet Sunny South
10 – Redbud
11 – Bye
12 – I’ve Been A Long Time Leavin’ (But I’ll Be A Long Time Gone)



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