The Willies

Continuing his exploration of country music themes and influences (which have always been audible in even his most avant-garde work of the past), guitarist Bill Frisell joins up on this album with bassist Keith Lowe and multi-instrumentalist Danny Barnes to create one of his warmest and most accessible recordings yet. Unlike Nashville, his previous country project, this album actually focuses largely on traditional old-time fiddle tunes and blues numbers, though all of them are subjected to Frisell’s uniquely quirky musical deconstructive process: “Cluck Old Hen” is recognizable, but mainly because Barnes is playing it in a straight-ahead clawhammer style underneath Frisell’s jazzy soloing; “Blackberry Blossom” (which usually serves as a show-off vehicle for fleet-fingered acoustic flatpickers) is taken at a leisurely tempo that allows Frisell to show off the tune’s simple beauty; his arrangement of “Goodnight Irene” is soft, delicate and lovely. Highly recommended.