Eli West “Tapered Point of Stone”

Independent, 2021

‘Tapered Point of Stone’ is a revelation and a breath of fresh air in the bluegrass world.

Eli West’s approach to music, in which he imagines music architecturally and visualizing his compositions spatially, has allowed him to craft complex song structures that belies the beautiful simplicity of his music.  His bluegrass-inspired songs hint at the loose, communal vibe so often present in the genre, but at the same time subtly speak to something more intrinsic even as soothing, familial melodies warm the soul.

Working again with longtime music co-conspirators Andrew Marlin (Mandolin Orange) on mandolin, Christian Sedelmeyer (Jerry Douglas) on fiddle, and Clint Mullican (Mandolin Orange) on bass, West adds tasteful touches of banjo, guitar, and mandolin and gives life to his belief in the collaborative nature of bluegrass.  The resulting album, ‘Tapered Point of Stone’, the quartets third, is an engaging series of banjo and fiddle led tunes, dotted with the occasional vocal and marks the point where Nashville meets Appalachia.  In the bluegrass world it is easy to get lost in the depth of talented pickers who can so easily wow with solo after mesmerizing solo, but on ‘Tapered Point of Stone’, while the individual musicianship is just as equally impressive, it is the depth of how they work and interact as a unit, the way they layer thoughts, riffs, and melodies into a cohesive plan that stands out.  In lesser-skilled hands this approach can come off as busy or cluttered, but for West and crew they expertly find the sweet spot between the composed and the improvised and deliver it with an intelligent simplicity that can hide the masterful skill of the players with the way everything seamlessly fits together.  ‘Tapered Point of Stone’ is a revelation and a breath of fresh air in the bluegrass world.

8/10
8/10

About Tim Newby 46 Articles
Author of books, writer of words, enjoyer of good times. Often found barefoot at a festival somewhere. Author of 'Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin' Sound & Its Legacy' (2015), 'Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival! (2019) Follow him on twitter @Tim_Newby9 .

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