For those of us who may have thought, if only for a moment, that the Steep Canyon Rangers had simply became the backing band for banjo-playing comedian Steve Martin, I am glad to say for certain that we were all incorrect. Although they have been touring with Martin for quite a while now, the Steep Canyon Rangers seem to be back to making their own music again with the release of a new project titled Nobody Knows You.
Their brand new disc, which was released on Rounder Records, is a collection of 12 songs, written or co-written almost entirely by band members. In fact, a whopping 11 pieces can be attributed to band members only: Mike Guggino (mandolin), Charles R Humphrey III (bass), Woody Platt (guitar), Nicky Sanders (fiddle), and Graham Sharp (banjo). Musicians Jon Randall (guitar), Randy Kohrs (dobro), Jimmy Wallace (piano), and the unwavering beat of percussionist John Gardner (drums) are also included in the mix.
An album titled Nobody Knows You may seem a bit out of place for a band currently enjoying their highest level of popularity within their 12 year existence, however, after giving this record a spin, I’m sure you’ll agree that the Steep Canyon Rangers have turned out yet another high quality product which really shows their unique band sound. With enjoyably edgy yet refined song arrangements, the new album is likely to appeal to a wide range of listeners, ranging from traditional music lovers to progressive bluegrass fans.
The album’s upbeat title track, which includes the lyrics “You were always the wind and never a wife,” tells the tale of a man who longs for companionship from a lady who had left him long ago. Songs like Ungrateful One are straight ahead compositions, while others like Rescue Me and Knob Creek (a G minor instrumental which includes a banjo chime solo and a really awesome bass ride) really show the group’s musicianship and personality. Other standout numbers include the partially a cappella number As I Go and the haunting echoes of Between Midnight and the Dawn, a sauntering melody about a man who has trouble dealing with his past. Yet another nearly perfect track, Natural Disaster, describes love as something which cannot be achieved due to an act of God interfering.
Fiddler Nicky Sanders describes bluegrass as “American Mountain Jazz,” and his description definitely fits what the Steep Canyon Rangers are creating: complex music played by virtuosos.
For more information on their music, performances, and to obtain a copy of their latest release, please visit www.steepcanyon.com. Their music can also be found on Amazon and iTunes.