New Bluegrass: Noam Pikelny — ‘Universal Favorite’

Noam Pikelny — ‘Universal Favorite’

Label: Rounder Records (available March 3, 2017)

Listening to Noam Pikelny’s new album, Universal Favorite, is almost a cinematic experience. The notes that float and fly out of Mr. Pikelny’s instrument seem to catch and reflect light as they move past, making way for the next series of notes, while ultimately gathering to form unforgettable aural landscapes. Each song is, in its own way, a drama, mystery, documentary or tale of love being told by a master storyteller.

With the release, the banjo virtuoso, considered by many to be the finest of his generation, makes his Rounder Records debut. The album—equal parts covers and originals— is an impressive solo effort from the seven-time Grammy nominee best known for his work as a founding member of Punch Brothers. How he does it—this fusion of baroque, folk commentary—with just an assortment of vintage stringed instruments and, occasionally, his reassuring voice is a wonder.

If you think you know the full versatility of the banjo, think again. And they say angels play harps?

To preview or purchase this album on iTunes, click here.

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