PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Steve Martin and Edie Brickell: So Familiar

While Martin and Brickell enlist an A-list cast of musical supporters, the real accomplishment comes via the bond the two have established between themselves.


So Familiar

Label: Rounder
Release Date: 2015-10-30

Steve Martin’s made a remarkable transition in recent years. Once known as the chaotic goofball who donned a fake arrow through the head, serenaded under the guise of King Tut and uttered the dopey exclamation “Excuuuuuuuuse me,” it always seemed somewhat impossible to assume that he would ever be taken seriously. Never mind the fact that he’s one of America’s most iconic comedians and that his numerous film credits have earned him a solid standing in Hollywood and throughout the rest of the world. For the most part, it’s his silly schtick that sticks, forever branding him as a crazy comic who will do just about anything to get a laugh.

Consequently, we can now credit Martin with accomplishing something entirely unexpected, that is, to gain new respectability -- and a viable parallel career -- as an astute musician who needn’t count on his comedic skills alone to get attention. Not that’s he’s refrained from being a funny man, but thanks to his banjo playing prowess and a determination to make some memorable music, he’s finding a second life as a performer of remarkable repute. It began when he chose the Steep Canyon Rangers as his back-up band, both in the studio and onstage, and then elevated even more when he branched out and struck up a partnership with singer Edie Brickell. The pair’s utterly engaging debut, 2013‘s Love Has Come for You took many fans by surprise, given its emphasis on serious intent and romantic reciprocity. Now, with Martin’s Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association in tow, the duo cap that achievement with So Familiar, a follow-up that’s every bit as charming and melodious as their first. It goes a long way to prove that Martin’s instrumental intentions aren’t fleeting and that his musical triumph was no mere fluke. In effect, there are now two Steve Martins -- the wacky, wisecracking comedian and the heads-down, no-nonsense musician.

While So Familiar finds Martin and Brickell enlisting an A list cast of musical supporters -- the Steep Canyon Rangers, fellow banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck, bassist Leland Sklar and producer Peter Asher all offer assistance -- the real accomplishment comes via the bond the pair have established between themselves. Indeed, the most winsome tunes -- “So Familiar”, “Always Will”, “I’m By Your Side” and “My Baby -- find Martin and Brickell effecting their mellow mood with only the barest accompaniment, putting the sentiment across all on their own. Likewise, the assertive strains of “Won’t Go Back” and the plucky “Mine All Mine” provide the album with additional standouts, two solid offerings that resonate long after the final notes fade away. By now that familiarity factor is well established, and if Martin does ever decide to give up his day job, it’s likely he’s find a warm welcome in the musical mainstream.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.