Well, he dresses like an old man, and his voice is leaden with world-weariness beyond his years, but Juno-award winning Canadian banjo player and songwriter Old Man (Chris) Luedecke has springtime in his fingertips. Luedecke is musically a traditionalist more than a revisionist, and his Americana is one part bluegrass sprightliness and one part heart-wrenching Appalachian lament. On this fourth full-length release, he continues the run of excellent songs and expert pickin' that he started on his 2005 debut. Close attention rewards listeners with gem-filled lyrics — Luedecke updates his rootsy songs by pairing them with clever and decidedly modern words, with a miniaturist's eye for details about cell phones, digital watches, and love gone right and wrong. "Macchu Picchu" has a wry, descending hook that highlights rueful lyrics of geography-challenged lovers. "My Love Comes Stepping Up the Stairs" is a layered new-love song with a surprisingly mournful sound (and a violin hook that, probably unconsciously, echoes the riff from the Angel television show theme song). On the upbeat album closer "Inchworm," he sings of hard-won hope: "If I stay a springtime green/It's through a thousand dirty falls." Here's wishing Luedecke a thousand more dirty falls, if they result in music this sweet.
- Barry Alfonso