What the heck? Blues from a banjo?!?!?! Well, sorta kinda, starting out with the writer/player's own Banjo Blues, 'n plenty cool too, but blues? Sayer not only graduated magna cum laude in English but worked with Woody Allen on several films and is a member of his band, appearing in Wild Man Blues (there's that word again!). She released 8 CDs before this, the last one with Bucky Pizzarelli (yow!), so I hardly need mention she's pretty damned well respected. Now, though, as to blues, well, yeah, there's that, but this is actually old-timey music more so than lament—I mean, geez, just how sad can ya get with a banjo playing?—and her own You Talk Too Much is heel-kicky and smart-ass—positive traits, by the way, and the sort of thing this sappy-ass society could use a hell of a lot more of. Sooooooooo……blues? Naw, but the disc is indeed a Joyride, and had Ian Whitcomb or Leon Redbone appeared as guests, it wouldn't've surprised me one little bit.
Cynthia favors a 4-string axe over the 5-string and showcases her singing more than her playing, but her playing's interesting, looking more to a lyrical style than speedstering and fancy-pants fingering. Of all the banjo-ists I've heard over the last decade, her leads are the most prose-oriented, incisive, and recorded in such a way that a really ground level sound is captured, as though you were sitting next to her in the studio as she laid things out. Joyride is a very different take on certain aspects of The Great American Songbook and its corollary modes, taken from cabaret, back porch, and hoot 'n holler atmospheres with a Randy Newman-ish side band providing the backgrounds. The Man on the Flying Trapeze, Goody Goody, Move It on Over, and other classics sail through with the greatest of ease, but I'm really stuck on those banjo lines 'cause they're way atypical and begin to expand the function of the instrument with a good deal more of its capabilities than are normally exhibited.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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