Although Alex Meredith was born in Colchester England, he’s spent most of his life in Siler City, North Carolina. Playing mandolin since his teens, Meredith’s style is full of youthful inventiveness, which comes through on his debut solo project, The Friends I Made Along the Way.
All twelve instrumentals on this project were composed by Meredith and feature various configurations of supporting musicians. The opening track, Tarantula in the Outhouse, is a duet piece featuring Alex alongside fiddler Sam Stage. The two musicians complement each other remarkably well. It really gives this recording a strong start.
Falling Acorn is a traditionally oriented tune. Played in a minor key, this track features excellent instrumental backing from Nick Tutweiler on fiddle, Shawn McKee and Holden Ruch on guitar, Kendall Potter on banjo, and Caleb Schilly on bass.
Dewdrop on a Rock is another duet piece which this time is centered around mandolin and guitar, featuring Jackson Pettee, who provides excellent lead and rhythm work on this track.
Drama Grass Breakdown and Roach Hunters fall into more of the progressive camp. The former track features not only great playing from Meredith, but also smooth melodic banjo from Hank Smith, and fabulous lead guitar work from Holden Ruch, Alex’s bandmate in The Bathtub of the South. This piece also includes Ella Thomas on fiddle, and Caleb Schilly on bass. The latter track is performed in a jam band vein and masterfully displays Alex’s technical prowess on the mandolin. This particular tune features Sam Stage on fiddle, Hank Smith on banjo, Holden Ruch on guitar, and Caleb Schilly on bass.
Barefoot Reel is an old time oriented tune. Performed with Meredith’s bandmates in The Bathtub of the South, this track includes Ruch and Schilly along with Sophie Nachman on fiddle.
Three tunes in particular will definitely appeal to mandolin enthusiasts. Waltz For Abby is one of two twin mandolin pieces that feature Alex and Aidan Buehler. This elegant tune also features Kendall Potter on banjo, Nachman on fiddle, Rausch on guitar, and Schilly on bass.
The other twin mandolin tune, Raindrops on the Window, is a gentle soothing piece that allows the listener to hear what Meredith and Buehler’s eight stringed instruments can sonically produce.
The following track, Edwards Pass, is a solo composition that closes out the recording. This is yet another tune that captures who Alex Meredith is as a mandolinist, and displays his remarkable, mature musicianship.
Alex Meredith is a fine mandolinist. The Friends I Made Along the Way captures not only his compositional abilities, but also his virtuosity and skillful choices as an instrumentalist. It’s an inspiring effort, one that should be enjoyed and studied by aspiring players.