Thu, Jan 29, 2009 (midnight)
Yes, it’s that Steve Martin, adding musician to a resume that already includes comedian, actor, playwright, novelist and screenwriter. Actually, Martin’s been playing the banjo at least as long as he’s been a comedian, and even won a Grammy in 2001 for strumming on Earl Scruggs’ “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” His first music album is a traditional bluegrass affair, featuring pluckers Scruggs, Tony Trischka and Pete Wernick on a mostly instrumental collection of 15 original tunes.
- Steve Martin
- Beyond the Weekly
- Steve Martin
There are also four songs with lyrics penned by Martin, although he only sings one. “Late for School” proves that Martin is a better lyricist than a vocalist, but it’s charmingly goofy and indicates that he could probably put together a pretty good kids’ album. “Pretty Flowers” is as lovely as one would expect a Dolly Parton-Vince Gill duet to be, and “Calico Train,” with vocals by Irish singer Mary Black, has a haunting, old-fashioned Celtic lilt to it (one that’s shared with appropriately titled instrumental “Freddie’s Lilt”).
Martin is a perfectly good banjo player, and a decent songwriter as well, but he’s not a virtuoso, and he isn’t ever going to be. Could he have attracted such an impressive cast of supporting players if he weren’t already a famous actor? Maybe not, but he doesn’t abuse that power; every guest is well-utilized, and Martin’s presence is entirely unobtrusive. Without his name, The Crow would merely be a solid, fairly anonymous bluegrass release; to his credit, that’s mostly what it is even with his picture on the front.