Whoa, now here's a discovery! This is dyed-in-the-wool folk music and then some. Every song is stripped down to allow the full emotional content through, Bob Bradshaw singing in world-weary wistful tones and playing guitar while Chad Manning rasps a mournful fiddle and twangs his mandolin in an airy threnody of urban pangs and pains. The two go together like hound dog and hobo, neither missing a trick in the human experience while tramping the byways and highways, forever heading towards a forlorn setting sun.
Bradshaw is an attendee of Boston's Berklee School of Music while Manning has recorded and toured with David Grisman but also sat in with the likes of J.D. Crowe and Tony Trischka. Darol Anger has commented very favorably on his plaintive skills, calling him "one of the most expressive" of the new fiddlers. Together, the two lads produce some of the best folkie sounds since the 60s and 70s, understanding the mode marrow deep. You couldn't find a better time machine than Bag of Knives*.
One of the many great aspects of this disc is the fact that it hangs together like a piece of architecture, every cut supporting its brothers and sisters, a quiet symphony of ghostly and evanescent airs from the old days gently passing through to tomorrow. Cruel Recipe is vaguely Randy Newman-ish, circa Sail Away, but these guys owe nothing to anyone, creating a sound with clear antecedents while thieving nothing, thus reinvigorating—if that's the correct verb for such a laconic collection (save for From the 2-Step to the 12-Step Once Again, a spritely number)—the esteemed mode in the beginning of the 21st century. This is one Bag of Knives that lands softly on the ear.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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