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Sound Check

11/4/2015

Steve Martin & Edie BrickellSteve Martin Edie Brickell
“So Familiar”
Rounder Records

This is an absolutely delightful pairing. Martin, long known for his comedic chops, is one of the more accomplished banjo players around and has the ability to concoct simple, heart-tugging melodies. Brickell, ever the songwriter’s songwriter, has been criminally under-appreciated for years now, written off in some circles with the dreaded “one hit wonder” label. In truth, they work wonderfully together in this, their second album together. Martin’s greatest musical strength lies in knowing where his abilities end and never working beyond them. For Brickell, her talent is in making every song sound comfortable and warm, like you have heard it a million times before. She works well with Martin’s banjo, and tracks that allow those two things to interplay freely, such as “Won’t Go Back,” are when the album shines. CV

Carrie UnderwoodCarrie Underwood
“Storyteller”
Arista Nashville

More than enough comparisons of Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert have been made over the years. They both were launched by television competition shows; they both have big voices and the songwriting ability to put them to work. But while Underwood has been country music’s girl next door, Lambert has been happier being the girl across the tracks. Now, in a bit of a shift, Miranda has gone pop, while, with “Storyteller,” Underwood has gone a little Miranda. Seemingly no longer content to sing about Jesus and the great love of her life, “Storyteller” is full of revenge ballads and the words of a woman scorned one time too many. It is all fine enough stuff, and may even find a decent audience, but it also feels a little hard to swallow, coming from the All-American girl. CV

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