No,no, not that Steve and Eydie, the husband and wife duo Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme who had a couple minor hits in the pre-rock era and after that were on every telethon or second-rate variety show in the '60s and '70s. The new and improved Steve and Edie features actor, comedian, novelist, playwright and all-around wild and crazy Renaissance guy Steve Martin. He's had a banjo in his act since the arrow-through-the-head days, but nobody knew until his recent work with the Steep Canyon Rangers how well he could actually play. Partner Edie Brickell is less of a household name. Leader of the band New Bohemians in the '80s, she might be best known these days as Paul Simon's better half. But that might be about to change. She has a delightfully ethereal voice perfectly suited to wrap around the banjo-forward tunes on "Love Has Come For You."
Although there are some very talented musicians lending their support on several numbers, the production wisely focuses on the banjo and Brickell. Wise choice, since a more natural match hasn't been seen since Reese's wed chocolate and peanut butter. This great collection of songs sound timeless with their evocative talk of fried chicken picnics and building barns, or even old-timey - when a war veteran shows up it's a Civil War vet - so much so that it's a little jarring when e-mail is referred to in When You Get to Asheville.
Martin has been quoted as saying, "The banjo is such a happy instrument - you can't play a sad song on the banjo - it always comes out so cheerful." The same could be said of Ms. Brickell's vocal instrument. And although most of the tracks concern upbeat topics, they do test that theory on a few occasions. Remember Me This Way is a wistful meditation on a dying person's possible legacy, Sarah Jane and the Iron Mountain Baby concerns a newborn who is thrown from a train, and
Yes, She Did is about a suicide. And yep, you still end up smiling and singing along.
As if the music weren't enough of a complete package, you also get a painting from a multi-talented comedian, Martin Mull, that'll make you nostalgic for the days of LP covers that allowed more for appreciation of art. And Martin's thank you notes are too funny not to share here: "My thank you list is the same as Edie's, except for thanking her Grandma Larry and her kids, who gave me no encouragement or love."