Artist: Sam Bush
Label: Sugar Hill
Release Date: 06/24/2016
Sam Bush would have every reason to rest on his laurels. As one of the early exponents of the so-called “Nu-Grass” movement, a populist movement that combined bluegrass tradition with contemporary intent, he helped steward the band New Grass Revival into the upper tier of early Americana. In the years since, he’s become a standard bearer for the populist precepts that help define today’s festival scene for the thousands of devotees who are drawn by the love for its freewheeling finesse. A sideman to the stars, he has made his mandolin and fiddle standard accouterments on any number of albums from artists who have attained varying degrees of stardom. As such, he’s attained the rank of a musical master who’s an essential part of the Nashville studio scene.
Fortunately, all his outside activity hasn’t deterred him from pursuing a prolific solo career, one that’s as richly rewarding as the efforts he’s put forth on behalf of others. A three time Grammy winner and recipient of multiple awards of recognition from the bluegrass and Americana communities, he demonstrates his songwriting skills through various offerings co-composed with Emmylou Harris, Jeff Black, Jon Randall and perhaps most significantly, the late Guy Clark. Their shared expression of courage in the face of medical adversity, as told through “Carcinoma Blues,” is one that’s truly worth relishing.
The results make Storyman an outstanding example of all its title implies, as well as Bush’s most satisfying effort to date. From the spirited delivery of songs such as “Play By Your Own Rules,” the overt optimism of “Everything Is Possible” and the heartfelt “Transcendental Meditation Blues” to the lofty caress of “Lefty’s Song,” and the aforementioned “Carcinoma Blues,” Bush covers a variety of genres with typical aplomb, combining instrumental dexterity with a full measure of craft and credence. Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and studio legend Hargus “Pig” Robbins are among those who lend support, but there’s never any doubt who is steering the show. This “storyman” provides a stirring discourse indeed.
– Lee Zimmerman