Given a look at all he’s accomplished, most observers would agree that Billy Strings has become something of a phenomenon in a decidedly short time. Yet, at the same time, it’s not without justification. With five albums to his credit in a career that clocks in at less than a decade, he’s certainly shown the initiative to warrant that recognition. Indeed, it’s paid off with some of the most prestigious awards the industry has to offer, including a Grammy, a Pollstar Award, a nomination for Artist of the Year courtesy of the Americana Music Association, and double nods from the IBMA in 2021, for Guitar Player of the Year and Entertainer of the Year.
The fact that the acclaim has come to an artist who’s yet to reach his 30th birthday adds another mark of distinction.
With his new album, Renewal, Strings broadens his boundaries even further, doing so without sacrificing the dexterity displayed earlier on — both in terms of quality and quantity. Boasting some 16 tracks in all, there’s not a weak link in the entire effort. His rapid-fire picking on Hide and Seek, Know It All, Red Daisy, and Secrets offer ideal examples — but also offer opportunity to show off his abilities on piano, bass, keys, synth, and percussion as well.
Likewise, Strings emotes with a vocal style that’s equally effusive, one that at times has him sounding like a vintage back porch balladeer, especially on songs such as Leaders, Hellbender, and This Old World, all of which are embellished with more traditional trappings in a well-seasoned template.
At least partial credit should be given co-producer, Jonathan Wilson, a respected indie artist in his own right who’s overseen efforts by Conor Oberst, Roger Waters, and Father John Misty, among the various others. His efforts help ensure that Strings not only excels, but with that full flourish.
Ultimately, Renewal lives up to its name, although this isn’t so much the revival its title might indicate, as it is further evidence of a decidedly prolific prowess. Strings is nothing less than a tour-de-force, an artist with a skillset that allows him to transcend at every endeavor.
Suffice it to say, Renewal provides the proof.