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

The Infamous Stringdusters: Ladies & Gentlemen

The popular newgrass outlet give the girls their time to shine.


The Infamous Stringdusters

Ladies & Gentlemen

Label: Compass
US Release Date: 2016-02-05
UK Release Date: 2016-02-05
Amazon
iTunes

Every so often, a celebrated band moves beyond its public-purported bearings into conceptual territory that few could have surmised as their next big step. Ladies & Gentlemen is that big step for the revered progressive acoustic band, the Infamous Stringdusters.

Even if it makes total sense on paper to introduce a slew of talented women to what, so far, has been an all-guys’ affair, it’s more that the Stringdusters have become infamous for their individual talents that one could have more safely predicted that they would simply release another album devised amongst themselves -- maybe with a collaboration or two here or there -- and believed that they would have been right. The gentlemen here offer nothing more than their instruments to the show, featuring a talented lot of twelve ladies in Americana to front the vocal side of their latest album’s scene. This comes with the exception of final track “Hazosphere”, which is a totally instrumental, full-frontal sonic attack on the senses featuring trumpeter Jennifer Hardwick.

For those that know the Infamous Stringdusters, they know that the band bringing their virtuoso-level instrumental talents to the party is more than enough. Even if you might miss their voices in this outing, you can at least admit that the women up at the vocal bat are more than qualified to take up the gauntlet. They’ve left the classic bluegrass spontaneity-meets-newgrass musicality of previous records like their self-titled 2008 outing and 2012’s Silver Sky for something more formulaic, but in that each song carries a potent message to pair alongside its star siren.

Multifaceted masterclass interpreter Joan Osborne kicks Ladies & Gentlemen off in the best way possible, calling for the people of the world to think for themselves on the potent “Listen”. The track carries a rocking lilt to its chorus as Osborne croons with a tinge of grit, “Listen to the wind blow, listen to the rain fall / Listen to the dark clouds, listen to your heart call,” setting the tone in place fantastically for the remainder of the album’s themes of empowerment, inner socio-politics, and different stages of self-liberation. Elsewhere, Sara Watkins soars in self-appreciating celebration on the affecting “See How Far You’ve Come”, and Aoife O’Donovan bares her fangs on the lost-and-fine-with-it attitude of “Run to Heaven”. Trumpet also joins the ensemble on the Abigail Washburn-fronted “Rock and Roll”, and Lee-Ann Womack delivers her earnest plea for oneness across the world in “I Believe”.

Taking on a crew of especially talented and revered artists and having them collaborate with you on an album certainly wouldn’t be the worst of baseline ideas, but it means nothing without a vision, as has been seen in seemingly pointless, if not occasionally (and even unintentionally) offensive ideals (see: Paisley, Brad & Cool J, LL - “Accidental Racist”). Thankfully, the Infamous Stringdusters have once again proven that they have their heads on nice and straight with the collective greatness that is Ladies & Gentlemen. The end result is, arguably, the best album that the ‘Dusters have put out since their self-titled affair – plus, it does a heart good to know that these golden boys are keen on giving the girls their time to shine, all the same.

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.