Credit Jason Barie, who operates here under the guise of The Ramblin’ Fiddler, for assembling a most impressive collection of singers and musicians for an album that pays homage to the origins of bluegrass and Americana music in general. Barie’s own notoriety may be limited by his sideman status, but as fiddler, producer, guitarist, bassist and mandolin player, he’s done a superb job, having recruited such talents as Doyle Lawson, Del McCoury, and Paul Williams, among the many, to share a selection of songs written by Barie, along with a number of traditional numbers of a distinctive vintage variety.
The range of material is impressive in itself — faithful covers of the old time Gospel favorite, Beyond the Sunset for Me, Hank Williams’ I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Ashokan Farewell, and Carter Stanley’s We’ll Be Sweethearts in Heaven are all natural additives — but what’s even more impressive is the way Barie’s original songs seem to find such a fine fit alongside the standards. His wailing, fiddle fueled instrumentals Waiting on Isaac, Sarah Jo, Two Left Shoes, and Oak Grove Shuffle sound like they were borne from the mountains of Appalachia a century ago. Likewise, the lilting Adalynn’s Lullabye shares a sound and sensitivity that suggests Barie’s not only a master of form, but of finesse as well.
Of course, a mere reprisal of classic form and formula might limit Pieces’ appeal, but Barie’s imagining of this effort as a fantasy quest spawned from his own imagination — one about a boy who discovers a family heirloom in the form of a fiddle that’s been passed from generation to generation ,and discovers he’s a master of the rosin on a mission to take his talents to audiences near and far — heightens the appeal. It was inherent to that intent to get some of his heroes to contribute their skills, along with his own.
Thus, the story of the Ramblin’ Fiddler came to fruition.
Newcomers could consider it a primer when it comes to sharing the enduring legacy of bluegrass. Those familiar with the form will find it a study in abject appreciation. Either way, Barie’s devotion and diligence make for a concise combination, the result of lessons well learned.
Ultimately, these Pieces provide a valuable proviso for novices and aficionados alike.