When The Infamous Stringdusters comes out June 10 on Sugar Hill Records, some may assume from the title that it's a debut recording. Those already aware of the Stringdusters phenomenon will know differently: that 2007's Fork in the Road was the album that boldly introduced this daring, disciplined band to the world of bluegrass and a wider world of music enthusiasts who heard it and decided: 'if that's bluegrass, then I love bluegrass.' Fork in the Road was named Album of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. Its title track was named Song of the Year, and the band itself earned the honor of best emerging artist in a competitive field. It was a stunning cap to an amazing 2007.
Yet The Infamous Stringdusters feels like an introduction of a sort. Whereas Fork in the Road was made during their first potent months together, the new CD represents all the band has become during two years of intense touring, meticulous woodshedding and brotherly jamming. It's their first record with accomplished guitarist Andy Falco, whose blues-infused licks and stunning virtuosity has added a new facet to the band's musical personality. It's the first with the band's dream producer Tim O'Brien, a Grammy-winning musician who has pioneered and embodied the progressive school of roots and bluegrass that underlies the Stringdusters sound. And of course it's the first with these songs - nine band originals supplemented by a few carefully chosen tunes from colleagues in the acoustic music community.
Dobroist Andy Hall's "Well, Well" captures a character in limbo between desperation and optimism. Bassist Travis Book contributed several songs, including the sentimental "Bound For Tennessee." Fiddler and singer Jeremy Garrett lends layers of lonesome to his song "When Silence is the Only Sound." Meanwhile, "Loving You" by Grammy nominated writer Sarah Siskind is a signature example of what sets the Stringdusters apart, with its off-kilter groove and dark-hued melody. The bluesy and slightly demented "Get It While You Can" was composed by Bad Livers mad genius Danny Barnes. And rippling newgrass instrumentals from the hands of mandolinist Jesse Cobb ("Golden Ticket"), banjo master Chris Pandolfi ("Glass Elevator") and Hall ("Black Rock") complement the album with flawless examples of the band's trademark instrumental virtuosity.
In their breakout year of 2007, the Infamous Stringdusters played over 150 dates, including the biggest festivals in acoustic music, jammed on major stages with heroes like David Grisman and Sam Bush, and landed a development deal for motion picture music with Lions Gate Entertainment. With the release of The Infamous Stringdusters, 2008 promises more roads and more new fans in bluegrass and beyond.