New York-based Breadfoot picks at his banjo and six-strong Dobro like a country boy. “My brother, he had hisself this old pick-up truck,” he writes in the notes, explaining the title of “International Esther”. “Her name was Esther … Esther always got us where it was we was goin’.” On Tea with Leo he’s joined by Anna Phoebe, violin player, and String Mistress of the prog-classical Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Here, she switches between a country fiddle sound (“Polly Loved Me (I Know)”, “A Hard Day in Manhattan”) and an elegant formal sweep (“Hilary Rose”, “Smoking on the Stoop”). The violin gathers itself up in shorter noises and relaxes into longer ones, opening and closing like an anemone while the plucked banjo string pins it down, insistent upon common good sense. They do so much together that Tea With Leo feels like a full album even though it’s only 25 minutes long. Unless you’re really out to get as much noise-time as you can for your buck (a reasonable enough aspiration, I guess), then there’s no reason for it to be any longer. Credit goes to “the fine folks at 12 Bar” who brought the pair of them together.
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