BRUCE MOLSKY - Contented Must Be
Rounder Select 82161-0534-2

Bruce Molsky’s admirers claim he’s one of the finest fiddlers of his generation (and on the evidence of his latest CD he’s clearly in the pantheon which includes Kevin Burke, Natalie McMaster and Martin Hayes), but this is only part of his talent. He also plays guitar and five-string banjo to virtuoso standard. Oh, and he sings too – very well.

Molsky has been referred to as “old-time music’s answer to Ry Cooder” and that’s a pretty fair description of his fluency in a variety of styles. One might anticipate a certain professional arrogance, but Molsky comes across as a modest man. It’s apparent that he’s a true lover of the music who remains enthused by a career which encompasses his own band Fiddlers 4 (who received a 2003 Grammy nomination) and work with Jawbone and Andy Irvine’s Mozaik.

Even to a reviewer who never learned violin at school and can’t appreciate the finer points of bowing technique but knows a good thing when he hears it, ‘Contented Must Be’ is a joy. The mix of songs like ‘Charmin’ Betsy’, ‘Diamond Joe’, ‘Green Grows The Laurel’ and a fine unaccompanied ‘Let’s Go To Huntin’’ with tunes such as ‘Johnson City Rag’, ‘Blackberry Blossom’ (complemented by Darol Anger on baritone fiddle) and ‘Knoxville Blues’ (beautifully picked on open-tuned guitar) make this a collection not merely of interest to fans of Appalachian music. Production (by Molsky himself) is done with a light, deft touch, never overwhelming the nuances of the material. The inlay notes (again, by the man himself) are informative without being nerdy; but if you do fancy trying to emulate the maestro, he helpfully provides details of keys and tunings. In a world where the music not infrequently gets subordinated to the gratification of personal ego, Bruce Molsky is the real deal.

Dave Tuxford

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 65 of The Living Tradition magazine.