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Bruce Molsky

Soon Be Time – 2006 (Compass)

Reviewed by Dave Bagdade

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CDs by Bruce Molsky

Bruce Molsky, originally from the Bronx, has devoted himself to American old time music, particularly that of Appalachia. This is his sixth album as a soloist or leader, and his first for Compass. Although primarily known as a fiddler, Molsky is just as skilled on guitar and clawhammer banjo.

Considering that this features no overdubs, no guests and nothing more than Molsky's voice and instruments, the record displays a surprisingly wide variety of styles. Sure, there is plenty of old time fiddle, fingerstyle guitar, banjo and singing ("Forked Deer," "Buckdancer's Choice," "Cider" and "Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie" respectively).

However, there is also "The Brass Band Ruchenitsa," a Bulgarian tune in 7/16 time arranged for fingerstyle guitar, which Molsky learned from Andy Irvine, his colleague in the world-fusion group Moziak. There is also "Georgia Belle," an old time tune with Scottish overtunes and Eastern European slides. Then there is "Come Home," written by Swedish fiddler Kjell-Erik Eriksson, which in Molsky's hands becomes a lovely fingerstyle guitar ballad, and "Fare Thee Well Blues," an old country blues tune.

Although such diversity too often leads to a lack of focus, Molsky suffers no such malady. This is a finely rendered and enjoyable album by a musician who knows what he's doing, what he's after and how to get there.