By Joshua Wallace
Billy Strings is about to explode. He’s already had an amazing 2019 selling out shows on his tour supporting this album and some amazing festival runs. His music transcends bluegrass while keeping true to the roots of the genre. He is one of the best guitar pickers alive today and he’s got an amazing band that can keep up with him. Home is his second studio album and it takes things to another level. There is more great songwriting, more longer jams that you can’t wait to hear live versions of and more lightning fast guitar picking. This album certainly lives up to the hype.
The album kicks off with “Taking Water” which is one of the more traditional bluegrass tracks on the whole record. I love the opening of the track with the use of John Mailander’s fiddle to create seagull sounds to help create the setting of the song. I also dig the track “Running”. This one features some lightning fast picking and while it airs on the more traditional side, it sets the stage for things to come. “Everything’s The Same” is another track in the same vein as “Running”. Super fast guitar licks here and I love the lyrics here about no matter where you go or what you do, everything’s the same.
There are two longer jam tracks on this album, the first of which is “Away From The Mire”. The song starts off slow, but picks up pace after the first chorus and doesn’t let go. After the third chorus, the band goes into psychedelic overdrive with a solo that will knock you back a few feet. When it is all said and done, it ties everything back together and refrains the first verse and chorus. It’s already a major hit live and I personally can’t wait to hear it myself. The second of the two longer jams is the title track “Home”. This starts off with a very structured melody and some orchestral pieces sparsely sprinkled throughout. Like “Away From The Mire”, this track builds epicly to an amazing finale that is in my opinion, the best thing Billy Strings has put to record in this vein. It keeps the orchestral element building while he incorporates electric guitar and a sound that is almost Santana inspired during the long solo. It’s really awesome and I cannot wait to hear this performed live.
Another favorite track is “Highway Hypnosis”. It’s a hard driving bluegrass song about being on the road. I love the mandolin solo from Jarrod Walker before the song breaks out into a psychedelic sound effect overload for a while before going back to the main tune. It’s a great use of the trippy elements Billy has been incorporating on an otherwise traditional bluegrass tune.
The final two tracks on the album deliver something a bit different. “Guitar Peace” is just over four minutes long and it’s a solo piece from Billy on his guitar. It starts out slow, but builds and some psychedelic effects are thrown in as the pace picks up pace more and more. It’s a great bit of very technical playing from Billy and I can’t wait to hear what he does with it in a live setting with improv. Finally, the album closes with the most traditional tune on the record, a bluegrass gospel number called “Freedom”. It’s complete with harmonies from the entire band and ties the record back to it’s bluegrass roots. Billy certainly isn’t a bluegrass traditionalist by any means, but he never forgets the sound that brought him to this point on this record.
With the release of Home, Billy Strings is set for bigger things. He is already on tour supporting this record and many shows are sold out if not near selling out. If that’s not a sign of the start of something huge, I don’t know what is. He’s making music that transcends bluegrass and he’s drawing crowds bigger than most modern bluegrass acts I have seen. You can stay up to date on everything Billy Strings and pre-order this record at the band’s website. Home comes out everywhere Friday September 27th.
Favorite Tracks : Taking Water, Away From The Mire, Home, Highway Hypnosis, Love Like Me, Everything’s The Same, Guitar Peace, Freedom
Billy Strings – Home (2019)
- Taking Water
- Must Be Seven
- Away From The Mire
- Watch It Fall
- Long Forgotten Dream
- Highway Hypnosis
- Enough To Leave
- Hollow Heart
- Love Like Me
- Everything’s The Same
- Guitar Peace