Magic Tuber Stringband
A low-key tape out of Durham, NC makes for another great addition to the bluegrass bunch for 2021. Slotting in alongside favorites from Black Twig Pickers and Russell Hoke, the duo springboard off of the Appalachian traditions, but don’t let the genre pen them in. The pair expand the sound, letting Middle Eastern drones and Anglo-folk slip into the record as well. The record opens with the harrowing fry of “Quarry Ate The Mountain,” but begins to soften as the record blooms. It’s clear to see that Jack Rose in his days with the Black Twigs had an impact on what’s going on between the bookends of When Sorrows Encompass Me ‘Round, and that’s just fine with me. Evan Morgan’s guitar dances around the listener with the kind of joyous, wistful playing that Rose excelled at and that newcomers like Matthew Rolin and Joseph Allred have pursued in in the past few years as well. Courtney Werner’s fiddle on the other hand gives an alchemical touch to the band, changing the moods of each piece and either tightening the tension or flinging wide the doors of celebration.
It’s fitting then that Feeding Tube should showcase the band’s latest, as the label only further entrenches itself as a beacon of experimentation, jubilation, and talent year over year. Magic Tuber Stringband seem primed to set themselves right between the barn dance brilliance of the latest Twigs record and the complexities of Powers/Rolin duo, picking up the verdant strains of the former and the psychic duo dynamic of the latter. With their string work washing over the listener like spring fed water and wildflower scent, the record is a dazzling work of folk fantasy for 2021.
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