Oftentimes, “place” pays a large role in an artist’s sound and style—for example, when you think about the blues, the Mississippi Delta, Memphis, or Chicago usually come to mind. And, when thinking of bluegrass, images of the verdant Appalachian Mountains or the rolling hills of Kentucky dance through the imagination. For Australian prodigy Angus Gill, who recently released his new bluegrass LP The Scrapbook, “place” is straight from the heart.
The Scrapbook is a brilliant example of how the pandemic forced us to become more creative in how we, well, create. Gill assembled a star-studded lineup to bring his vision to life while 2500 miles away from his collaborators. Throughout its 11 tracks, the album takes the listener on a rollicking adventure full of intricate musicianship, wit, and a gamut of emotion. The album begins with “Always On The Run,” an energetic tune full of bright banjo licks that playfully intertwine with guitar and fiddle. Gill shows us his tender side with tracks like “Samson,” a song about bullying with a sweet resolution, and “Whittling Away,” a duet with grassy icon Jim Lauderdale inspired by the struggles Gill’s mother endured and strength she displayed when wrestling with the decision to move her mother to an assisted living facility.
Gill’s charm and cleverness come through in album tracks “Let’s Have A Drink (To Not Drinking Again),” a high, lonesome waltz performed with award-winning songwriter Jerry Salley, and in title track “The Scrapbook,” where he walks us through the pictures on the pages of his grandmother’s keepsake album.
In “Heartquake,” we get an ample dose of traditional grass as the song moves at a lightning pace, leaving the listener breathless in time to receive haunting, hymn-like album closer “Forget Me Not,” an a cappella beauty featuring exquisite four-part harmonies.
With The Scrapbook, Gill’s plethora of talents are in the spotlight; he amply proves he’s not only a prodigious creator, but a gifted storyteller that puts his heart on the line in every turn of phrase.
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Featured Image and additional photo of Angus Gill by Jackson James