Guest House Edition: Eli West, David Krakauer’s Ancestral Groove & Frank Solivan
Eli West: The Both
This week I’ve got three very different albums that utilize guest musicians to push the already very good to pure excellence. First is Eli West who utilized a Kickstarter campaign to fund the recording of The Both in tribute to his two grandfathers. The album consists of six fantastic Americana songs played two ways: with vocals and instrumental. Each track benefits greatly from a range of guests, particularly Bill Frisell, a personal favorite, but also excellent vocalists Anna & Elizabeth and Dori Freeman as well as some great bluegrass players. There’s a lot of understated warmth in each song and the dual nature of the record lets everyone involved shine both individually and together.
David Krakauer’s Ancestral Groove: Checkpoint
To be honest, Checkpoint, the newly released LP from David Krakauer’s Ancestral Groove needs no special guests to push it over the top. This is some seriously funkified klez-fusion with Krakauer’s dynamo clarinet slinking between some groovy bass and drums and countered with some tasty electric guitar. It’s some rockin’ boogie, to be sure. But, if, say, John Medeski and Marc Ribot were available to sit in on a track each, who would complain, right? Those sit-ins provide some serious multiplication-by-addition, with Ribot providing one of the nastier guitar solos I’ve heard on record in a while. Tack on a live track at the end and you’ve got yourself a record. Check it out!
Frank Solivan: Family, Friends & Heroes
Finally, we have an album which is really all about the special cast of musicians that Frank Solivan brought together for his new album. Called Family, Friends & Heroes, the record is filled with just that. Each track features some combination of bluegrass titans – McCoury, Douglas, Bush, Cowan etc. – and family members. Recorded in “intimate, living-room style” this one features some fun covers, tasty harmonies and plenty of adventurous pickin’… a must for any bluegrass fan.