Joe Walsh, mandolinist with The Gibson Brothers, has a new solo project, Sweet Loam, on his own Skinny Elephant label. It’s the second under his name, which offers him a chance to stretch out a bit stylistically on mandolin, and as a vocalist.
Accompanying him on the album are his bandmates in The Gibson Brothers, a sampling of the young string wizards in the Boston area where Joe went to school, and the one and only Darol Anger who also produces. Anger has long had a reputation for nurturing young string players and, now that he is living in New England, east coasters are getting their chance to shine under his tutelage.
The songs and tunes encompass a wide swath of mando-centric music. There’s some bluegrass, tracked with his erstwhile employers, some old timey, some Celtic-influenced original material, and even a dose of ’60s folk. Throughout, Walsh shows himself to be a fine mandolinist, playing with admirable dexterity, and making appropriate choices across this wide spectrum of genres.
But it’s the voice that is most distinctive about our young Mr. Walsh. The sound is a bit hard to characterize, showing little influence from the bluegrass world in which he has been immersed over the past ten years. There’s a bit of grit, but with a vulnerable quality well suited for the music on Sweet Loam.
Here’s a taste on the album’s opening track, written by Greg Brown and E. Bailey, from which the CD’s title is derived.
Ain’t No One Like You: [http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegrasscast/aint_no_one.mp3]
You can hear the entire album at Joe’s bandcamp site, where you can also purchase tracks or the entire album for download.