Artist: Billy Strings
Label: Billy Strings, LLC.
Non-Airable Tracks: “Leaders”
Billy Strings, in his third formal album, has yet again captured the new wave of jamgrass. Not quite Grateful Dead, but transcending the bluegrass of Ricky Skaggs and Bill Monroe, Strings has blessed us with lengthy solos and powerful lyrics. Where his more formative albums reflect a youthful Strings, one forced to grapple with mounting fame and life on the road, Renewal felt mature. Backed only by mandolin, banjo, and a driving upright bass, Billy’s masterful flat-picking solos were not intimidating, but accessible. One, having never picked up a guitar, is left not with shock, but deep admiration for the art that is being presented.
His first song on the album, “Know it all” takes a more familiar Billy Strings approach, combing an extremely catchy rhythm with a beautiful harmonic chorus, followed closely by sectional solos only Billy and company can pull off. However, the album takes a deep turn on track three with “Love and Regret,” a song which, to my great surprise, carried lyrics so heavy as to water my eyes. Track nine, “Red Daisy,” is an incredible tribute to the bluegrass styles of the aforementioned Skaggs and Monroe. With quick pace and nonstop vocal harmony, “Red Daisy” is quickly becoming one of the more widely popular songs from the release. “Hide and Seek” displays nine and a half minutes of Dead-like psychedelic experience that unapologetically intrigues and encapsulates the listener. It casually builds for eight and a half minutes, before unleashing one minute of lyrical prowess that hits harder than a punch from Mike Tyson.
Renewal, admittedly blends many of these themes, tones, and styles. With a hefty sixteen tracks, running a total of one hour ten minutes long, there is one or two songs for any listener regardless of their familiarity with Strings or his genre revival.
1. Grateful Dead
2. Greensky Bluegrass
3. Blue Highway
1. Heartbeat of America
2. The Fire On My Tongue
3. Fire Line
Reviewer’s Name: Hayden Tillinger
Date of Review: 16 November 2021