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Bruce Molsky proves that you can be scholarly about American roots music without being boring. On his latest release, Soon Be Time, he entertains his listeners on fiddle, banjo, and finger-picked guitar. All solo, no overdubbing, just him, an instrument, and you.
Soon Be Time is Bruce Molsky's sixth solo album. All of his past albums have been collaborations with other musicians including fiddler Darol Anger, guitarist Bob Carlin, cellist Rashad Eggleston, and other equally talented players. Molsky has also created a number of excellent fiddle instructional videos for Homespun Tapes. Molsky teaches at several well-known national music workshops and music camps as well as touring as a solo performer. Much of the material on Soon Be Time was developed from his live performances. Even though most of the tunes on Soon Be Time are at least 50 years old (with the exception of Molsky' s original song "On My Street" and Kjell-Erik Eriksson's "Come Home") they have the vibrancy of freshly penned compositions. Molsky has a special ability to breathe life into old music so it doesn't sound dry and starchy. Perhaps this skill stems from his passion and insight into what makes each tune special. Nothing on Soon Be Time comes across as "Just another old fiddle tune." Take "Forked Deer," often recorded and played, Molsky's version has a particular rustic beauty. He uses double stops to give melody a modal character that many other versions minimize or avoid all together.
Recorded at Compass Sound Studio in Nashville, TN, by Eric Jaskowiak, Soon Be Time has that natural acoustic fidelity that Compass records are known for. Whether it's his fiddle, banjo, or Santa Cruz small-bodied guitar, Molsky sounds as if he is sitting right between your stereo speakers. With just a whisper of very natural-sounding reverb this recording captures all the immediacy of a live performance in a well-tuned acoustic space.
Although I've never met Bruce Molsky, after listening to Soon Be Time I feel like I know him. His music has a straightforward delivery and utter honesty that runs counter to a majority of what you hear in mainstream pop media. Want to water your roots? Try a healthy does of Soon Be Time.