Born in 1938, Norman Blake has been playing music since he was 16, has played with everyone from Flatt and Scruggs to Doc Watson and Tony Rice, and provided the musical icing on the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack. He’s about as good a guitarist as you’ll ever hear, for one simple reason: While others such as Rice or Dan Crary might be faster, none are as musical as Blake. His songs resonate with melody and story telling, instead of existing solely as finger speed exercises. This collection of guitar works from his various releases was created most likely to tap into the renewed (or new) interest in Norman Blake and all things old that the surprise success of O Brother caused, and there is nothing wrong with that. No matter how you come to discover Norman Blake, a listen to his take on “Spanish Fandango” or the sheer joy of “Down Home Summertime Blues” will make you glad you and Norman have finally met up. This record features Blake with Tony Rice and Doc Watson (“Lost Indian”) and his longtime collaborator, wife Nancy, on cello. It’s all excellent.
Rounder Records: http://www.rounder.com