Artist: Billy Strings & Don Julin
Album: Fiddle Tune X
Release Date: 10/01/2014
How two performers manage to sound like a complete band is beyond me. On Billy Strings & Don Julin’s Fiddle Tune X, the duo often arm themselves with a simple guitar and mandolin, but consistently sound as though they have their own dedicated rhythm section.
The album opens with the fiery fast “Beaumont Rag,” a traditional tune that the pair breathes new life into, and the crowd’s overjoyed applause throughout the track is a testament to that. As a guitar player, listening to these tracks makes it difficult to find incentive to play. These men remain in a league of their own, playing with a poignant swiftness that leaves them seemingly unrivaled.
Strings & Julin share an incredible musical chemistry and move through both traditional folk and their own originals while still retaining a fresh sound. This album validates the timelessness of both bluegrass and Americana.
An unquestionable highlight of the record, “Dos Banjos,” includes particularly remarkable musicianship. The track features inspired banjo work that brilliantly compliments Strings’ vocals. The liner notes read, “The majority of this album was recorded with a single microphone placed between the musicians. […] The balance is all performed live in real time.” Sorry folks, no auto-tune on this one. Billy Strings & Don Julin’s Fiddle Tune X remains unapologetically rooted in the present while providing a much needed slice of Americana.
– Landon Gampel