Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn, “Echo in the Valley”

download-1One of the delightful moments is this recording is in the 5th track, when both segue into a lovely take on Bela Fleck’s “Big Country.” It’s a tune he’s presented himself a lot, most notably within the “Live from the Quick” release. It’s not as challenging as some of the things he does, which makes it a nice entrée to what he does. Moving between voices, shifting chords here and there. That all takes on an added dimension here, playing with Abigail Washburn. She’s a master of old-time banjo, he the master of everything else, and both add their separate personalities to the piece. Washburn is more poetic, Fleck more rhythmic. She’s more of a feel player, he more studied. That 5th track, a medley, is the only instrumental on the album, and too bad there aren’t a couple more. Between them they can do no wrong, of course, though this is a better release than their last one. That one, their self-titled release, felt a bit rushed in a way, maybe a album for the sake of it. It was interesting for what it was—again, these two have the reputation as being masters, and it’s a reputation that is earned—but this release, Echo in the Valley, feels more polished, maybe, more thoughtful, in a way. In all, it’s a lovely way to while away a bit of time. They are interested in opening a big piece of musical territory, and they do.


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