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Russ Barenberg

When At Last – 2007 (Compass)

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

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CDs by Russ Barenberg

Russ Barenberg's name belongs at or near the top of the list of great guitar pickers of the last generation, alongside Tony Rice, Doc Watson, Bryan Sutton and others. His name may not be a household one, but there is no doubt about his musical abilities. He was part of the 'super-picking' trio with Jerry Douglas (Dobro) and Edgar Meyer (bass) that produced the classic 'Skip, Hop and Wobble' record a few years back, but this is his first solo album in many years.

Here, he teams up with another team of stellar pickers, including Douglas, fiddlers Ruthie Dornfeld and Stuart Duncan, bassists Viktor Krauss and Dennis Crouch on 10 originals, including the Celticy "The Pleasant Beggar" and the bluegrassy "Redbird In The Willow/The Lakes" and "On Milo's Back." He ends with a wonderful rendition of an old French folk song, "On The Steps Of The Palace."

Instrumental records are often hard to review because the music doesn't fit easily into any usual category. Though Russ Barenberg's music tends not to fit under a familiar label, it is it's very enjoyable from start to finish, with melodies and instrumentation that 'go down easy.