Bruce Molsky proves that you can be scholarly about American roots music without being boring. On Soon Be Time he entertains his listeners on fiddle, banjo, and finger-picked guitar. All solo, no overdubbing, just him, an instrument, and you.
This is Molsky’s sixth solo album, and much of the material was developed from live performances. Though most of the tunes are at least 50 years old (with the exception of Molsky’s original “On My Street” and Kjell-Erik Eriksson’s “Come Home”) they have the vibrancy of freshly penned compositions. Molsky breathes life into old music, a skill that stems from a passion and insight into what makes each tune special. Nothing on Soon Be Time comes across as “just another old fiddle tune.”
Take “Forked Deer.” Oft-recorded, Molsky’s version has a particular rustic beauty. He uses double-stops to give melody a modal character that many other versions minimize or avoid all together.
Recorded at Compass Sound Studio in Nashville, by Eric Jaskowiak, the disc has a natural acoustic fidelity. Whether it’s fiddle, banjo, or his Santa Cruz guitar, Molsky sounds like he’s sitting between your speakers. With just a whisper of natural-sounding reverb, this recording captures the immediacy of a live performance in a well-tuned acoustic space.
Molsky’s music has a straightforward delivery and honesty that runs counter to a majority of what you hear in mainstream pop. Wanna water your roots? Try a healthy dose of Soon Be Time.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Jan. ’07 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.