Solid Butter – The Cleverlys

The Cleverlys have carved a unique path for themselves. Not only do they present the music of pop culture with bluegrass backing, but they do so with a comedic flair. Their third full length album, Solid Butteris another collection of pop and country favorites spanning several decades. Of course they’re interpreted by the Cleverlys in an unforgettable way.

Consisting of Dr. Digger Cleverly on guitar, and his nephews Ricky Lloyd Cleverly on bass, DVD Cleverly on banjo, Haggis Cleverly on mandolin and guitar, and Wasper Cleverly on dobro, it’s clear from the first note of Dr. John’s Right Place Wrong Time that all five of these gentlemen are solid instrumentalists and vocalists in their own right.

Let’s Get It Started comes from the repertoire of the Black Eyed Peas. It was the first of several songs on this project that had me laughing out loud. 

The following track, Creep, was first recorded by the English rock band Radiohead in 1992. This particular arrangement truly impressed me. While it is amusing, the group renders it in a hardcore traditional fashion. You wouldn’t expect that kind of idea to work for a song such as this, but it does surprisingly well.

Love Shack comes from the B-52s who first released it in June 1989. This is another track that demonstrates the Cleverlys’ strong arrangement abilities. It also features excellent bass and dobro work from Ricky Lloyd and Wasper respectively.

Climbing Up is the sole track that isn’t a cover song. Written by Dr. Digger, this piece fits the band really well stylistically speaking.

Gangnam Style made popular by Psy in 2012, was the ultimate highlight for me. At the time this song was originally released, I was a junior in high school. Listening to the Cleverlys’ bluegrass rendition brought an odd wave of nostalgia that I wasn’t expecting. It was another one of those tracks where I just couldn’t stop laughing!

Hillbilly Highway was cowritten and recorded by Steve Earle on his acclaimed 1986 album, Guitar Town. The Cleverlys’ take on this song is a wonderful demonstration of the group’s strong vocal harmonies.

The Cleverlys are somewhat of a divisive group within the bluegrass community. Some really love their brand of musical comedy, while others find what they do less than amusing. As with their other recordings, the material on Solid Butter will be most enjoyed by those familiar with the material being covered. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, you can’t argue with the exceptional musicianship and variety that the Cleverlys present.

Share this:

About the Author

Braeden Paul

Braeden Paul has been involved in various capacities of bluegrass music. A Texas native, Paul has been part of several Dallas-based bands as a mandolinist. He also serves on the board of directors of the Southwest Bluegrass Club in Grapevine, TX. As a writer, Braeden has also contributed numerous music reviews to the Bluegrass Society of America Facebook page, and is the co-author of Texas Bluegrass History: High Lonesome on the High Plains.