Editors’ Notes For decades, Alison Brown’s style of banjo has constituted its own subgenre, neatly straddling the lines between bluegrass and jazz. Her recent releases have introduced new subtleties, making her even harder to pigeonhole (though no less easy to enjoy). The Company You Keep is a typically engaging and occasionally challenging album, embroidering her melodies with quirky chord choices and rhythmic nuances. Brown’s jazzier side comes through in songs like “Crazy Ivan” (distinguished by its exotic feel and odd meter), “The Road West” (an uplifting tune suggestive of a soundtrack cut), and “The Clean Plate Club” (crisply moving to a ‘30s-style groove). The rippling “Under the (Five) Wire” gives her bluegrass roots more exposure, while the lullaby-like “Drawing Down the Mood” and the traditional “Forky On the Water” are tinged with Celtic shadings. As ever, Brown emphasizes taste over speed in her playing, finding sympathetic support from the likes of bassist/husband Garry West and pianist John R. Burr. The Company You Keep is a class act from start to finish.

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