Sam Bush Shares Tall Bluegrass Tales On New Album, ‘Storyman’

first_imgWith the incredible life Sam Bush has lived, an album with the tantalizing title Storyman gives fans a reason to get excited. A bluegrass fan from the earliest ages, the young Bush honed his virtuoso mandolin and violin skills to competition level sharpness, when a fateful set by a bluegrass band sparked an idea that would inspire a genre of music. Since that day. Sam Bush has defied conventional bluegrass wisdom, and fused elements from the entire spectrum of music with his signature kinetic style.It should be mentioned that much of what modern bluegrass has become is thanks to Bush’s efforts with the legendary pioneering band New Grass Revival. The spirit of pioneering exploration and fusing that made that band such a breath of fresh air is still alive in his heart today, and shines through on his latest work. Every song on Storyman was either written or co-written by Bush, with a stellar line up of collaborators including Emmylou Harris and the late, great Guy Clark. That consistency of vision helps keep the tone of the material consistent, while the styles of music contained on the disc vary wildly. For his first studio release in seven years, Bush spent the last four years working on this album, searching for the perfect blend of thought, style and performance to capture the music he heard in his head and heart.Stream Storyman below courtesy of The Bluegrass Situation, and read the full review below.The first track, “Play By Your Own Rules,” seems to be a mission statement for not just Sam Bush’s career but life itself. Lyrically urging the listener to follow a self determinist philosophy Bush usually his playing to illustrate his point perfectly. The transition into the reggae tinged next track, “Everything Is Possible,” which further carries forth the “Play By Your Own Rules” themes by clearly diverting musically from the more strict bluegrass tone of the disc opener. While his sometimes challenging use of odd time signatures and intricate weaving of instruments can force listeners to expand their musical palettes, his vocals and lyrics on “Transcendental Meditation Blues” show a strong connection with the everyday that can easily escape musicians who have spent decades in the industry. From the very beginning Sam Bush has displayed an almost effortless talent on the mandolin that has only grown through decades of practice and playing. Even though Bush has always been a team player, he finds plenty of opportunities to showcase what has made him one of the most beloved players on the scene. His use of percussion in his band frees him to play more evocative passages. such as the mournful work he puts forth on “Lefty’s Song,” the heartbreaking tale of small town virtues and long lost love. Waltzing numbers like “Carcinoma Blues” see his plucking paired perfectly with a rolling piano and jazz brushes, revealing yet another impressive facet to his game; a ragtime style whose charming nature hides a bleak subject matter that clearly haunts the title character.On the ode to his home town “Bowling Green,” Bush perfectly encapsulates the experience of trying to go home again with mournful picking and honest lyrics, like “There’s nothing left in those foot hills but lonesome melodies.” Though there is a sadness associated with bluegrass almost inherent with the lilting and mournful nature of the instrumentation used, it doesn’t preclude Bush from sharing a dry and wry sense of humor from time to time. Though “Handmics Killed Country Music” features a slightly silly view of the way video helped kill the guitar-playing star, it is made infinitely more ironic when you take Bush’s most notable achievement, changing the way bluegrass is made.In managing to be able to share the wisdom of his years while still sounding fresh and relevant, Bush has stepped his game up yet again. On the album closer “I Just Want To Feel Something,” he echoes that juxtaposition with the twin themes of ennui and hope, summing up his obvious goal for the songs presented here. In laboring so long on the project, Sam Bush has clearly invested himself quite personally in every aspect of its creation, and the result is a clear look into the hopeful heart of a man who long journey through life has repeatedly shown him the merit of innovation, independence and loving those around him. We should all be grateful that an artist of the caliber of Bush has decided to craft as beautiful a guide to life as Storyteller is and for sharing it with the world.last_img

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