Love Has Come For You
Reviewed by Jane Roser
When Edie Brickell & New Bohemians released Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars, I was a junior in high school and listened mostly to music of the sixties, namely The Grateful Dead, Cat Stevens and Jethro Tull. I fell in love with the captivating lyrics and unique vocal style that Edie Brickell evoked. When Ghost of a Dog was released two years later, her bewitching ballads such as “He Said”, “This Eye” and “Stwisted” made me categorize Edie Brickell alongside Bono, Sting and Sarah McLachlan as one of the most consistently brilliant singer-songwriters of the 20th century.
I was tickled pink when I heard that Edie Brickell would be collaborating with Steve Martin on an album of 13 original compositions, featuring Grammy Award winning artists Esperanza Spalding on bass and the Steep Canyon Rangers, a fabulous North Carolina based bluegrass band Martin regularly performs with, along for the ride.
My friend, former lead guitarist for John Denver, Steve Weisberg, recalls hanging out and performing with Steve Martin during their days in Aspen: “He was very quiet offstage, until that inner madman came unleashed. When he sat in, he literally never spoke into the mike. Not a syllable. He just wanted to play banjo. He was (and is) a killer banjo player.”
Love Has Come For You is a modern take on traditional bluegrass tunes. These tunes take a simple narrative, usually tragic and melancholy, and transform it into either an eerie lament or a foot-stomping jamboree you would most likely hear on a Sunday afternoon at Floyd’s County Store. And if you don’t know what Floyd’s is, Google it immediately and see how impressed you suddenly are.
There is a luminous radiance to these songs, as well as wit and sauciness. “Siamese Cat” has kitschy lyrics such as, “I like your Siamese cat, I like your cowboy hat, but I don’t like your daughter” and at the end of the song, there’s a clever, oh-so-subtle insert of a kitty purring. “Get Along Stray Dog” is a fun, blissful ditty which makes me want to go outside and frolic. Or hula-hoop. “Sarah Jane and the Iron Mountain Baby” is a twisted tale of a baby in a suitcase that is thrown off a bridge and adopted by a local family: “What kind of devil could have thrown a little fella off the train in the first place?” Steve Martin’s fast paced, masterly banjo picking moves the tune along as fast as the old steam train they’re singing about. This is also the best song title I’ve heard of since Frank Zappa’s “My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama” (actually since just about any Frank Zappa song title). “Shawnee” defies description. When you have a lyric that goes: “You know my creepy cousin with the handlebar mustache? He opened up a cold one and sat on my lap.” you are suddenly out of the traditional bluegrass fare and forging a new path, which is what bluegrass has always done since it’s humble beginnings in the Appalachia region over 130 years ago. The album concludes with the mournful ballad “Remember Me This Way” which, to me, echoes ghostly sentiments reminiscent of Civil War era melodies. Haunting, sad and final.
Love Has Come For You is a gratifying masterpiece of soulful expression, sincere in execution, poetic in delivery. Bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs once said “If you don’t let things develop, it’s like keeping something in a bag and not letting it out to fly.” Well, this album has wings, for damn sure.