Banjos are, on the whole, cheerful, optimistic-sounding instruments. Let a banjo drive an album and you’ll likely get an upbeat, springtime soundtrack to crocus-blooming and kite-flying. That’s what Old Man Luedecke’s got on his hands.
Ironically, the Chester, Nova Scotia, folkie tackles heavy subjects on this follow-up to his Juno-winning second album. Inchworm is a life’s-harder-than-I-thought lament, while The Palace Is Golden speaks to the grief that comes with infertility. The well-crafted, Blue Rodeoish Woebetide The Doer Of The Deed comes closest to matching its lyrics’ dark undertones, and is most successful because of it.
Subtle, full-band arrangements of fiddle, mandolin, bass and drums accompany Luedecke’s nimble banjo-plucking and plain, honest vocals, while Tim O’Brien’s rough-hewn harmonies, particularly in Down The Road, add welcome character and variety.