On their fourth full length CD in two years Two Many Banjos continue to push the folk/bluegrass boundaries to their limits. This is TMBâ€™s most ambitious and forward thinking record to date and with a fifth CD currently being mixed it seems nothing can indeed slow them down.
Head writer for the group Marc Gartman (Little Gray House) maintains his songwriting prowess with another batch of tunes that tell less and less of broken hearts and more adventures of the world. â€˜Maybelleâ€™ imparts the (fictional?) tale of a young girl narrowly avoiding tragedy on the titanic in the early 1900â€™s. Reaching even further back â€™13,000 Railroad Menâ€™ conveys the plight of Chinese immigrant workers in the late 1800â€™s. Where does this stuff come from? Not even Gartman knows.
The Core group remains the same. Gartman on vocals and banjo, Dave Carroll (Trampled By Turtles) on vocals and banjo, Jillian Lantry on fiddle/vocals, Matt Mobley on upright bass and the percussion wizard Lane Prekker (Charlie Parr) on the washboard. This is their third full length recorded live to tape by Rich Mattson (Olâ€™ Yeller, The Tisdales) in his Sparta Sound recording studio in northern Minnesota.
Though not necessarily a short CD Canâ€™t Slow Me Down moves at a blistering pace and is sequenced to tell the most unique story in the limited time it has. It begins with a couplet of more traditionally arranged bluegrass numbers including the title track but quickly leaves that territory for what can only be described as the â€˜popâ€™ section of the record. â€˜Is That The Best That You Can Doâ€™ barely resembles a Two Many Banjos track at all with its intense electric guitar work from Mattson and steel drumming from Gartman. Itâ€™s TMBâ€™s own little U2 moment.
The last third of the record exists in its own miniature world with a relaxed pace and unique instrumental numbers. There are hints of Irish sing along (Picking Berries From The Berry Tree), a Gillian Welch-esque murder ballad (Hunt Me Down) and a debut from TMBâ€™s resident fiddle player with her optimistic number â€˜My Old Manâ€™.
Itâ€™s worth mentioning that work has begun on their fifth full length currently titled â€˜POW!â€™. The Tone of this work in progress pushes the bluegrass envelope even further and they hope to have this one released before the close of 2009.