I had a birthday last week, and I was suddenly inundated with Buffy, Firefly, and Pinky and the Brain DVDs. Thank you all.
I also have some new music. I've been trying to get together some reviews. Jars of Clay has a new album, Good Monsters, and what I've heard of it (Sarah has it mostly) sounds really great. G. Love put out one called Lemonade that is groovy in the extreme. I also picked up two Emmylou Harris albums from the library. I guess the music stars all aligned.
But the one I actually reviewed at Amazon is the new solo album by the mandolin player from Nickel Creek, Chris Thile. It's called How to Grow a Woman from the Ground.
Mandolin prodigy Chris Thile's last album, Deceiver, was a little off-kilter. He sang with himself and played every instrument on the album. What resulted was an almost private lyric in an unhappy marriage with merely average instrumentation (aside from the mandolin and a few other bright spots).
Deceiver is an illustration of Donne's axiom, "No man is an island, entire of itself," along with its lesser-known corollary, "so suck it up and get a band." How to Grow a Woman from the Ground provides the proof, QED.
Here, Thile is content to be first among equals. His emotional vision is intact, but he's brought in musicians to rival and even surpass the lyrics. With five covers and five instrumentals, Thile is not a one-man show. He often takes a back seat to the awe-inspiring play of his bluegrass bandmates, and blends into the background on some great harmony singing.
I find it very difficult to single out songs for individual praise. I'm a fan of Wayside, The Beekeeper, and Heart in a Cage, but you'll have to choose your own. It's Thile's most complete album to date, and better yet, it sounds fun where Deceiver was merely earnest.
You'll listen to it over and over again.