Tony Furtado has come a long way from his days as a progressive banjo whiz when he recorded several wonderful bluegrass/newgrass albums for Rounder, as well as the "Rounder Banjo Extravaganza" with Tony Trischka and Tom Adams. However, those days appear to be well in the past, as Furtado's transition from banjo-slinging instrumentalist to guitar-wielding singer-songwriter is complete on his 13th release.
The 13 tracks - 10 written by Furtado - are competent and listenable, featuring Furtado's amiable vocals and skillful fingerpicking and slide guitars (his banjo, unfortunately, is almost totally absent). The best of these are the title track, about the Sago mine disaster, and "The Alcohol." Furtado chose three well-known covers, "Won't Get Fooled Again," "Fortunate Son" and Elton John's "Take Me To The Pilot," and while none improves on the original version, each is enjoyable. The backup band is a who's who of alt.-country veterans, including Jim Dickinson on keyboards, Dusty Wakeman on bass and drummer Winston Watson, and the accompaniment they provide is complimentary and sympathetic, never overwhelming.
It is unfair to view Thirteen in the shadow of Furtado's earlier groundbreaking instrumental work, although some inevitably will do so. Those who can look beyond will find a highly listenable recording deserving of attention.