City of Refuge from Abigail Washburn

Foreign Children Records is scheduled to release the next album from celebrated banjoist and singer/songwriter Abigail Washburn on August 31. City of Refuge was produced Tucker Martine, renowned for his work with The Decemeberists and other edgy pop, rock and world music artists.

Assisting in the studio were her old Uncle Earl bandmate Rayna Gellert on fiddle, along with Kai Welch who not only contributed on a variety of instruments, but also co-wrote with Washburn for this project. Ketch Secor and Morgan Jahnig of Old Crow Medicine Show, Chris Funk from the Decemeberists and Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket also appear, as does guitarist Bill Frisell.

I was able to hear a few tracks from the CD and found the music enchanting. It would be a fool’s errand to try to categorize the sound. It combines elements of the many musical adventures Abby has taken; her clawhammer banjo is involved in the rhythm section, but the songs have a pathos and an emotive quality more common to alternative pop music formats. As always, hints of her fascination and deep familiarity with Chinese folk music are obvious as well.

Abby decsribed the record this way…

“Every song on this album ties into the sense of universal belonging, that we’re somehow displaced or seeking refuge from our troubles.”

Her singing is lovely and the songs I heard were brilliantly performed and produced. Hopefully audio samples will be available online before long.

Touring in support of City of Refuge will begin this fall, after she returns from a Chinese trip which will include a show at the World Expo in Shanghai.

Share this:

About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.