Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers - The Long Awaited Album review: some laughs with your bluegrass

STEVE MARTIN AND THE STEEP CANYON RANGERSThe Long Awaited Album ***Rounder Records/Decca Records

The Long Awaited Album
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Artist: Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers
Genre: Traditional
Label: Rounder Records Decca Records

Steve Martin writes and plays banjo with the fluency of a mountain boy. He blithely skips from Grammy-winning Broadway productions (Bright Star with Edie Brickell) to classy bluegrass collaborations such as this one, with his "travelling circus", The Steep Canyon Rangers, a collaboration that kicked off with their 2010 album, The Crow.

Musically, this self-consciously titled collection is at its best when Martin lets his marquee-scale humour retire to the back and allows his formidable five-string banjo skills find full flight. The Rangers are ideal compadres: highly accomplished, with fiddle, mandolin and bass curling around the songs like cats at a bowl of cream, particularly on Santa Fe.

The collection begs for a live performance. On its own though, the humour tends to sag on repeated exposure.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about traditional music and the wider arts