Many years have passed since an instrumental bluegrass album captivated me as much as The RV Sessions 2: Instrumentals by Infamous Stringdusters fiddler Jeremy Garrett. Maybe Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe or Bela Fleck’s Deviation. Garrett stays within the bluegrass genre while innovating brilliantly with influences from all over the musical map.
Since the Garretts live in a 40-foot RV, when he calls his third and fourth solo albums The RV Sessions, he’s in essence saying the living room sessions. The 2015 RV Sessions 1 featured songs, while the new one consists entirely of his original instrumentals. Garrett fiddles, of course, but is also joined by Jeremy Garrett on mandolin and Jeremy Garrett playing guitar.
Bill Monroe would likely be pleased with the music the trio of Jeremy Garretts produces, for the music of this album proves consistently powerful with a palpable sense of immediacy. You could tap your foot right through the floor; so don’t try that at home. The guitar lays down emphatic, pulsating rhythms, alternately driving and supporting the fiddle, while throwing in some clever runs here and there. On the mostly uptempo tracks, Garrett seems to wring every bit of expressiveness from his fiddle, while remaining connected to the melody. The mandolin doesn’t get to enjoy as much playing as the fiddle and guitar, but it comes in at just the right times with a percussive, often staccato-rich push. From the comfort of his RV, where it appears everything except the mastering took place, Garrett explores the latest recording technology to produce a rich, clear sound while augmenting the expressiveness of his playing.
Long before showcasing his songs on RV Sessions 1, Garrett proved his merit as a songwriter. Here he demonstrates that he is a significant composer. This ain’t no parlor music or cerebral new acoustic exploration. The tunes and playing are original, intense, driving, and melodic. The music is too vital, too propulsive, and too irresistible ever to be used for background music. Experience it for yourself. (www.garrettgrass.com)AM