Album Review of
The More I Learn

Written by Mark Gallo
August 25, 2017 - 12:00am EDT
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This is a beautifully played and sung album by a maestro. He has won nine International Bluegrass Music Association Guitar Player awards as well as a Grammy in 2007. He played with Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder for three years and then became one of the most in-demand session players in Nashville. There were a few years in Hot Rize and then he formed his own band. And what a band! Sam Grisman (bass), Chris Eldridge (guitar), Casey Campbell (mandolin) and Mike Barnett (fiddle), with harmony vocals by Tim O’Brien. Of the thirteen songs herein about half are originals and everything is impressive, of the jaw-dropping kind. The flat pick guitar work is comparable to the great Dan Crary, especially conspicuous on the instrumentals, the classic “Arkansas Traveller,” “Virginia Creeper “and his own “The Secesh.” His Doc Watson-inspired vocals are evident on the Uncle Dave Macon/Sam McGee classic, “Backwater Blues.” This isn’t just about his inspirations, but about the inspiration he is to up and coming players, as well.

The all-out picking session on his “Chase the Moon” (“I chase the moon and outrun the sun/’til the day is through and the day is done/shadows stretching long and thin/tell me I’ll find peace again.”) is as fun as it is impressive. Sutton’s guitar is augmented by fiddle, mandolin and banjo. On his “Time Has Come, he plays banjo and sings with only Mike Barnett on fiddle and on his “Hills For the Head,” he plays solo. There are many sides of Bryan Sutton to be found in “The More I Learn.” Each one is enormously impressive.