Featured Album

Mighty Poplar | Mighty Poplar | Free Dirt | 24.03.23

Connoisseurs of all things Bluegrass will no doubt remember banjo player Noam Pikelny and guitarist Chris Eldridge from their work with Punch Brothers, rubbing shoulders with the mandolin genius Chris Thile and fiddler Gabe Witcher.  Joining forces with Watchhouse multi-instrumentalist Andrew Marlin, Leftover Salmon bassist Greg Garrison and fiddler Alex Hargreaves, Mighty Poplar make music as tall and lofty as the mighty poplar itself, the sort of sore fingers performances that leaves open mouths on those who are fortunate to witness it.  Reminiscent of some of Doc Watson’s later recordings, notably with his son Merle, Mighty Poplar deliver their rootsy music in keeping with a similar ethos, to keep it close to home, preferably right there on the front porch, as the cover shot suggests.  “A Distant Land to Roam”, recently heard on Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard’s Pioneering Women of Bluegrass release, is treated to a slightly sped up reading, a perfect opener for an album that manages to lose none of its vibrancy throughout.  Bob Dylan’s “North Country Blues” is likewise polished and buffed for this new outing, this time with a waltz time feel.  Surprisingly, the album closes with a superb reading of Leonard Cohen’s “Story of Isaac”, ditching the bleakness of the original, together with the irritating Jew’s harp and strings.  Marlin’s voice traverses most of this debut album, though it wouldn’t really be a true Bluegrass album without the obligatory instrumental workout, in this case the stirring “Grey Eagle”.  Try listening to that without moving one or two phalanges in time.

Choice Tracks: Up on the Divide, North Country Blues, Grey Eagle