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Russ Barenberg - When At Last

When At Last

Russ Barenberg

Compass Records - 4459

Available from Compass Records.

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

Russ Barenberg is a fine guitarist and mandolin player. You might have one of his other albums such as Skip, Hop and Wobble. For sure you have heard his great playing on Ashokan Farewell played as the theme to the PBS series on the Civil War. When At Last is an album of tunes composed by Russ (except for one) and it has the same infectious quality that the "Skip, Hop and Wobble" had. Once you start listening it's hard to turn it off and you end up playing it over and over.

It is hard to categorize Barenberg's music. He is an accomplished acoustic guitarist who plays in many motifs. This is primarily acoustic album with some traditional roots. There are branches to some "Irishy" tunes like The Pleasant Beggar and Jump Back Barley. There are a couple tunes with a definite Scottish or English march interwoven. Then the title tune "When At Last" which is an incredibly beautiful minor key waltz played mainly on the guitar.

Russ has assembled a great group of musicians such as Jerry Douglas on Dobro and Stuart Duncan on fiddle. There is some percussion (tastefully done) as well as Irish accordion and piano. Russ likes old Gibson guitars and mandolins and they are evident in the production. The mandolin tune On Milo's Back is lively and mellow. Since most of the tunes are new, the play list includes a brief description to do what is difficult—describe an instrumental tune.

  • Little Mork - has a contagious beat
  • Fat Mountain - bouncy tune with a little percussion
  • When At Last" - see above
  • The Pleasant Beggar - Irishy march
  • The Man in the Hat - slow beat with a little Dixieland flavor
  • On Milo's Back - see above
  • A Dream for Sophie - introspective on guitar and mandolin
  • Redbird in the Willows/The Lakes - sort of polka flavored fiddle tunes
  • Jump Back Barley - Irishy uses a djenbe (African Drum)
  • Drummers of England - a slow march that carries you along as more instruments joint in.
  • Aux Marches du Palais (On the Steps of the Palace - (Trad) pleasant waltz/French folk tune.

To sum it up, When At Last is a great album which you will find yourself listening to a lot. If you are not familiar with Russ's playing you are missing something.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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