Old Salt Union: Old Salt Union – a high-octane bluegrass frenzy

Wed, Aug 9, 2017, 15:30


Old Salt Union

Old Salt Union

Compass Records


These so-called “postmodern bluegrassers” are a piece of work. Beseeching and throwaway by turn, Old Salt Union know how to whup up a frenzy, driven by Jesse Farrar’s upright bass and percussion and his take-no-prisoners vocals.

Making their Compass Records debut, and with the steady hand of Alison Brown on production, this is a high-octane collection that owes much to Chris Thile’s championing of the mandolin as an instrument of intense complexity. Justin Wallace’s high lonesome mandolin is the lifeblood of Flatt Baroque, a whirlygig of a tune that Lester would’ve surely approved of.

Wit, wisdom and an unapologetic appetite for the good times might conjure some unexpected comparisons with Calexico, but Old Salt Union are debutants who are comfortable in their bluegrass/newgrass pants. This fine debut cries out for a chance to hear it all in three dimensions.