Artist: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell
Album: So Familiar
Release Date: 10/30/2015
When you were once known as the goofball who donned a fake arrow through the head, serenaded under the guise of King Tut and uttered the dopey exclamation “Excuuuuuuuuse me,” it would seem somewhat impossible to ever be taken seriously. So credit Steve Martin for accomplishing that task through his banjo playing prowess and the determination to make some memorable music. After teaming with the Steep Canyon Rangers, he furthered his cred by partnering with singer Edie Brickell and then releasing the pair’s utterly engaging 2013 debut album, Love Has Come For You. Now, with Martin’s Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association in tow, the duo cap that achievement with So Familiar, a sophomore set that’s every bit as charming and melodious as their first. Although the Steeps, fellow banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck, bassist Leland Sklar and producer Peter Asher all offered assistance, the most winsome tunes – “So Familiar,” “Always Will,” “I’m By Your Side” and “My Baby – find Martin and Brickell effecting their mellow mood with only the barest accompaniment between them. The assertive strains of “Won’t Go Back” and the plucky “Mine All Mine” also standout, further proof that this degree of familiarity can embody some serious sentiment.
– Lee Zimmerman