Cup of Sugar – Tim O’Brien 

One of the foremost figures within current bluegrass realms, Tim O’Brien holds true to his standing with what may well be his best effort yet. Personable and pleasing, it finds humor, happiness, and happenstance embossed in each of these offerings, courtesy of astute observations that relate to everyday circumstance. Regardless of the subject — be it a bear that emerges from hibernation to find his habitat razed (Bear), a fish that simply wants to swim while avoiding a fisherman’s hook (Thinkin’ Like a Fish), a somewhat eccentric next-door neighbor (Cup of Sugar), or a couple’s domestic disputes (She Can’t, He Won’t, And They’ll Never), O’Brien’s seemingly effortless approach allows for an instantly infectious set of songs, all of which are underscored by a consistently easy and affable delivery.

To be sure, O’Brien’s not alone in this effort. A superb cast of topnotch musicians lend their support. Wife Jan Fabricius shares vocals and mandolin, while selected songs feature drummers Jamie Dick and Paul Burch, bassists Dennis Crouch and Mike Bub, Thom Jutz on guitar, Shad Cobb on fiddle, Richie Stearns and Cory Walker playing banjo, Russ Pahl contributing steel guitar, keyboards courtesy of Mike Rojas, and, especially notably, vocals and guitar from Del McCoury. Jutz, Ronnie Bowman, Jonathon Byrd, Shawn Camp, and Chris and Donnie Davison assist with the songwriting, further ensuring a captivating and compelling encounter throughout.

In that regard, Cup of Sugar becomes an instantly accessible offering, one that ought to find a wide audience courtesy of its effortless embrace of contemporary bluegrass. There’s no end to its insights, with songs such as Little Lamb Little Lamb, Goodbye Old Friend, and Let the Horses Run delving deeply into a sense of shared humanity through resilience and resolve. In short, there’s something for everyone to admire and enjoy, which makes this particular Cup of Sugar as sweet and delicious as its name implies.

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About the Author

Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman has been a writer and reviewer for the better part of the past 20 years. He writes for the following publications — No Depression, Goldmine, Country Standard TIme, Paste, Relix, Lincoln Center Spotlight, Fader, and Glide. A lifelong music obsessive and avid collector, he firmly believes that music provides the soundtrack for our lives and his reverence for the artists, performers and creative mind that go into creating their craft spurs his inspiration and motivation for every word hie writes.