Noam Pikelny’s new solo album, Universal Favorite, has generated a lot of attention in the mainstream music media since its release last month. Some of this is surely due to his prominence as a member of Punch Brothers with Chris Thile, but we hope some is due to his efforts to bring the five string more fully into contemporary music.
The record is a gem, required in every library of serious banjo music, and notable for the fact that is a solo project in the truest sense of the word. Noam is the only artist featured, and each track finds him by himself on either banjo or guitar, and sometimes singing along.
If you’ve ever caught him live on stage, you’ll know that he has a rich, resonant voice and an exceedingly dry sense of humor – making him a natural for the sort of video-driven web sites that cover popular music and culture online.
Two such sites have highlighted Naom and his new album recently. First, this roughly 30-minute solo concert and interview with Paste Magazine…
…along with this quick breakdown of contemporary banjo styles for Reverb.com.
Both videos find Noam with his pre-war PB-7 top tension conversion with a 24 fret neck made by Robin Smith. Its clarity and intonation are quite remarkable, especially in his hands.
Hats off to Paste and Reverb for including Noam, and to him for always keeping the roots of the banjo in the forefront when talking about his own stellar contributions to the repertoire.