'Fiddle Tune X’ by Billy Strings and Don Julin - keeps you wanting more(September 30, 2014)
There ain’t nothing new in bluegrass, hear one you’ve heard ‘em all. Yeah right. There’s so much depth and breadth that’s lumped in under the bluegrass banner, I’m surprised that anyone still knows what’s what. Having got that inaccuracy out of the way, I commend to your ears ‘Fiddle Tune X’ by Billy Strings and Don Julin. For sure, at its base level it’s traditional American string band music but the blend of sharp-edged Appalachian songs, virtuous gospel and scorching bluegrass instrumental extravagance lifts this album into a space occupied by few musicians.
This music is as down-home as you could want to be with enough heritage oozing through its pores to take you back to a time when this music was brand new. The interaction between these two musicians is something well worth getting to know, and the delivery is without visible seam or join. The mixture of style, presence and improvisation takes this music to spectacular heights and along the way takes the listener into realms that make tradition as strong as it remains. The 'live' edge cuts sharp as can be and gives this album a raw taste that keeps you wanting more.
The essence of this recording is ‘as it comes’and un-dubbed, the result is a mix that slides through such highs as‘Beaumont Rag’, Open Up Them Pearly Gates’ ‘Salt Creek/ Old Joe Clark’ and ‘Poor Ellen Smith’. There’s a solemn take on Bill Munroe’s ‘Lonesome Midnight Waltz’that fairly reaches out and an equally expressive view of ‘Shady Grove’.
Fiddle Tune X’ by Billy Strings and Don Julin is an album with teeth – take care it bites.
Reviewer: Tom Franks