ABIGAIL WASHBURN

City of Refuge

2011-01-20

After two records that sought to combine her deep love of Chinese culture and Appalachian folk music, Abigail Washburn keeps mostly on the mountain side of the equation on this set, assisted once again by an all-star list of contributors (from The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket, Old Crow Medicine Show, bass genius Viktor Krauss and jazz great Bill Frisell). After a brief prelude of Chinese children playing, it's on to traditional American tunes, led by her claw-hammer banjo style -- and she opens with a bang on the outstanding title track. The only faint hint of her Chinese influence comes from the sounds of bandmate Wu Fei playing the guzheng (Chinese zither). Washburn has a very original angle on the traditional, both lyrically and musically, although she ends with two very gospel-in-the-hills numbers, "Divine Bell" and "Bright Morning Stars." A unique artist. Gossip question: Is she or is she not married to Bela Fleck? MJVD 1/11 F-Neo-Traditional

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