It seems that we are still playing catch-up, trying to make mention of the great many new CDs that have come our way this fall. Once again, I’ll try to get to several more over this long holiday weekend.
Time After Time, the latest CD from Lilly Of The West, was actually released several months ago, but we had waited for it to become widely available outside of Europe before posting about it on Bluegrass Today. Lilly is Lilly Drumeva, the Bulgarian singer and guitarist who not only fronts the band, but also hosts country and bluegrass music programming on Bulgarian TV and radio, and serves on the board of the European Bluegrass Music Association.
On this project, her approach is a bit different than in the past, with respect to both the material and the musicians. The songs are drawn from the repertoire of pop and folk classics, but the arrangements, and Lilly’s distinctively understated delivery, clearly distinguish these versions from the familiar original – and many subsequent – recordings.
The title track was a major pop hit for Cindy Lauper, with other selections like Leaving On A Jet Plane, Just Once in A Very Blue Moon, The End Of The World and All I Have To Do Is Dream having also been radio hits over roughly a fifty year span. Folk favorites The Water Is Wide and A Walk In The Irish Rain are also included, along with one traditional Bulgarian folk song, Oblache Le Bialo.
Instead of putting together a band from among Europe’s top bluegrass players, Drumeva picked prominent classical musicians and gave them a crash course in the ways of acoustic/bluegrass string music. American grasser Jesse Brock, who spent much of 2006 in Europe, plays mandolin, with Drumeva on guitar, Svoboda Bozduganova on bass, Yassen Vassilev on nylon string guitar, and in another departure from the norm, Vladimir Michailov on viola.
The arrangements have a subtle, almost restrained feel throughout; you might even describe it as parlor string music. With no banjo, the music is less aggressive than more traditional bluegrass-influenced music, but the impact of where Mr. Monroe’s music has gone this past 60 years is clear.
You can hear audio samples from all but one of the CD’s 11 tracks on CD Baby, where you can also purchase the album as either digital downloads or an audio CD.