Mandolin master Chris Thile has proven to be one of the most dynamic and interesting bluegrass musicians - an artist driven to push the boundaries of a genre rigidly steeped in tradition. Thile's recent releases, both solo and as a member of Punch Brothers, have allowed him to spread his artistic wings even further with explorations into jazz, classical and other musical styles.
On his latest release, a collaboration with fellow New Yorker and ace guitarist Michael Daves, Thile returns to his traditional roots and in doing so creates a fresh and exciting tribute to some of the songs and artists that pioneered bluegrass music. The 16 songs are mostly traditional bluegrass standards, including compositions either penned or made popular by legendary artists and acts like Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe, The Louvin Brothers and The Carter Family.
Recorded over the course of four January days at Jack White's Third Man Studios in Nashville, "Sleep With One Eye Open" is about as old school as a group bluegrass recording can be - simply a guitar, a mandolin and two voices. Thile and Daves, who met at a Greenwich Village bluegrass jam session in August 2005, have a noticeable chemistry that drives this recording.
The entire collection is enjoyable, but the spirited instrumental, Billy in the Lowground, the jubilant My Little Girl in Tennessee and a stirring rendition of the classic Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms are particularly memorable.Both Rain and Snow and the gorgeously dreary Bury Me Beneath the Willow showcase the duo's vocal compatibility.