Eddie Ray Buzzini (whose given name is Ettore) makes his home in Mooresville, North Carolina. Just fifteen years old at the time of this recording’s release, the young banjoist lives with his Swiss-Italian father and American mother born in East Tennessee. Unsurprisingly, these two cultures have greatly influenced Buzzini’s musical and lyrical approach, both of which are reflected on his debut solo album, Eddie Ray.
The opening track, Ragnarok, is extremely impressive. Not only does the song tell an engaging story about the mythical battle between Thor and Odin, the Norse gods, but it also has a strong melody. It should be mentioned that Buzzini penned this song when he was only eleven years old! Eddie Ray is accompanied on this piece by Patrick McAvinue on fiddle, Kyser George on lead guitar, David George on bass, and Luke Morris on mandolin.
Farewell Blues is a jazz standard that most bluegrass fans came to know through the version recorded by Flatt & Scruggs on Mercury Records in 1950. The rendition played by Buzzini follows that arrangement fairly closely with the addition of superb twin fiddling from McAvinue and Willie Marschner, as well as lead guitar from Danny Knicely, and bass playing from Marshall Wilborn.
I’ll Try Not To Care is another original penned by Buzzini, Tom Mindte, and Mason Via. Falling firmly into the traditional bluegrass camp, this song focuses on the typical theme of love gone wrong, combined with a bit of teen angst. Mindte and Via also supply great harmony vocals on this track. Another strong original from Buzzini is Cash Don’t Sleep which tells an emotional tale of a young undocumented immigrant facing obstacles while attempting to bring his family to North Carolina.
New Camptown Races and Sunny Ray both demonstrate Eddie Ray’s abilities as a lead guitarist. The former is of course a Frank Wakefield classic which stays true to his original piece, while the latter has a Latin jazz flavor to it. Sunny Ray features Buzzini playing the resophonic tenor guitar.
You’re No Good is a bluegrass take on a song recorded by Bob Dylan in 1961. With strong lead vocals and banjo playing from Eddie Ray as well as great instrumental backing from Danny Knicely, Marshall Wilborn, and Patrick McAvinue, this is a really well done interpretation.
Eddie Ray Buzzini has all the goods. He’s a strong vocalist, instrumentalist, and songwriter. This recording captures every facet of his abilities, making for a thrilling listening experience. As cliché as it sounds, it’ll be exciting to see where Buzzini’s journey will take him!