The banjo like you've never heard it before!Joyful Noise Recordings, 2017
7.6 / 10
Sometimes I watch Chopped on Food Network. The show’s premise is that four chefs compete against each other with a basket of mystery ingredients. Obviously these mystery ingredients stump the chefs. But they also stimulate their creativity. The chefs use these ingredients to create amazing dishes. Similarly, Mike Savino, aka Tall Tall Trees, could have been handed just a banjo and told to create an entire album with it. He did. This album is Freedays.
Mike Savino is a bearded man. Very bearded. See that album art? It appears that Cousin It lives on his face. To create Freedays, Savino became caretaker at a health retreat in the mountains of northern Georgia. Bearded man, mountain-based scenery, a banjo. Okay, so Freedays is a folk album. Wrong! Savino experiments like a madman with the banjo and creates a monster. FREEDAYS IS ALIVE! IT’S ALIVE!
Nearly every sound comes from the banjo on Freedays. However, it’s not just finger-plucked strumming. Percussion, ambient noise, and thunderous chords defy expectations of the banjo’s limitations. Savino uses a computer to aid the banjo’s transformation. Who knew the banjo is capable of more than ominous music for stalking city boys in the wilderness1? Here, Savino crafts a three-minute epic with metal tendencies on “The Riverbend”. “Lost In Time” boasts an incredible wall of sound that would make Phil Spector happy. “A Place To Call Your Own” instills a mood of romantic dreaminess.
The one song where the banjo sounds most traditional is “SeagullxEagle”. However, the song quickly develops into something other than traditional. Savino’s isolation in nature does not make Jack a dull boy2 on Freedays. Instead, he presents listeners with possibilities beyond the norm. Suddenly the banjo seems more appealing.
2. This is a reference to The Shining.