Ben Freed - Speed of Sound

Speed of Sound

Ben Freed

Banjoben Music

A review written for Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Jim Zimmerschied

Some of us like music with drive. If you are that kind of person, then here is a banjo instrumental album for you to consider adding to your collection. It won't be one of the ones that collect dust. Most likely it will find its way into your car CD player or onto a cassette, so you can drive with Ben supplying the fuel.

Speed of Sound is an album of new tunes by a banjo master. The flavor is somewhere between bluegrass and pop, with hints of jazz and country music scattered in for variety. There are ten tunes on the CD, which isn't overly generous, but each runs three or four minutes. The title tune is super fast, bringing up visions of Orange Blossom Special and other such train tunes. One of my favorites on the album is American Flounder, with an Earl Scruggs feel. I didn't even mind the electric and steel guitar, although I am more of a fan of acoustic instruments. Another great tune is Labor of Love, with its intricate triplets and pop music flavor. This is a tune that will stick in your head all day. Pipe's Cove moves away from driving rhythm into a more laid back sound that makes me think about traveling across the country in a convertible. As you can see there is a lot of variety here - this is not a traditional bluegrass album, but one that can be enjoyed by a wider audience.

Throughout the album there is great accompaniment on fiddle, mandolin and guitar. Ben shows off his talent by overdubbing with dobro, pedal steel, guitar, bass and mandolin. Isn't it great to be able to play anything with strings?

This CD may not show up in your local music store, but I am sure Ben can fix you up via the internet.

Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz

Copyright 2001, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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