Review: Mr. Sun – The People Need Light

Mr. Sun lights up the musical horizon with infectious rhythms and the delightful interplay of instruments threads its way through eleven tunes on their first CD release The People Need Light courtesy of the nice folks at Compass Records.

​The group, comprised of an “intergenerational tribe” per the album cover, includes fiddler Darol Anger, guitarist Grant Gordy, mandolinist Joe Walsh and upright double doghouse contra string acoustic bassist Ethan Jodziewicz. Listeners familiar with these musicians from their previous work will find themselves on familiar ground and in friendly surroundings. For those not already acquainted it serves as a perfect introduction.The album notes include descriptions of each tune by the musicians together with a list of the studio microphones and instruments used.

The selections range from the late bluegrass humorist Randall Hylton’s “The Likes of You” sung by Joe Walsh followed by a generous selection of fiddle tunes –the first being the lively “The Fiddler’s Boot,” the lovely ballad themed “A Little Heart’s Ease” written by Joe Walsh as a musical souvenir of a memorable tour through Newfoundland and then a gypsy swing inflected instrumental “Hunter’s Permit” penned by Joe Walsh and Scott Law.

“A Stranger Comes to Town” finds Walsh and Grant Gordy collaborating on a bouncing melody and “instant classic” fiddle tune. Grant Gordy’s “Ben’s House” follows with a contrasting descending bass line and rich layers of fiddle, guitar, and mandolin.

“A Stranger Come To Town”

Sister Sarah Brown’s confessional to Sky Masterson in the Havana moonlight “If I Were A Bell” is done just right complete with chiming introduction and finish, trading riffs and plenty of swing throughout by all hands.

The People Need Light” is the gospel according to acousticity and shines bright. To quote Mose Allison when describing his Little Swinging Machine “It’s much more felt than seen.” Warmth spreads from the start to finish of this album’s title track.

“Key Signator” starts with “The Chop.” The chop. A defining tune and a singular voice shared over four instruments expressed individually with a collectively satisfying result.

“After You’ve Gone” written in 1918 by Turner Layton is given an updated treatment of blended mandolin, guitar, and fiddle harmonies and is well swung by all with Henry Creamer’s lyrics well sung by Joe Walsh.

“Dry and Dusty” is the final offering on this collection. At a relaxed pace it affords each performer and thereby the listener as well a chance to savor the musical moments held in the vessel of this classic fiddle tune.

Enjoyment awaits for fans and new listeners alike.

Compass Records

Matt Bowe

Our reviewer Matt Bowe taught himself to play ‘Red River Valley’ on a red Montgomery Ward guitar when he was 9 years old. Thirty years later he taught himself to play the same tune on a red Gibson mandolin.

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