BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Naturally, there’s no small irony in the fact that this set of songs, with all its strumming and plucking, should be credited to an artist who refers to himself as Billy Strings. Yet with his second album, Turmoil & Tinfoil, Strings — born William Apostol — shows that he’s earned his handle convincingly. Mostly consisting of high velocity rambles, the dozen songs herein boast an edge and intent not unlike the sound proffered by Steep Canyon Rangers, Bela Fleck, Sam Bush and other purveyors of today’s so-called nu-grass sound. While the music stays true to its rustic origins, it’s served up within a contemporary context that takes it beyond the back porch and into the confines of modern Americana. This is the sound of crowd pleasing picking, a certain flash and sizzle that offers the potential to draw a more avid admirer, the kind of devotee that’s likely to flock to a festival like MerleFest or Telluride to enjoy the instrumental dexterity these gatherings guarantee. The lightning fast frenzy of songs such as “On the Line,” “While I’m Waiting Here,” “Living Like an Animal” and the agile instrumentals “Salty Sheep” and “Pyramid Country” offer both fanciful hooks and adroit execution, a twin set of skills that propels Strings and his celebrity guests (Miss Tess, Bryan Sutton, Molly Tuttle, Shad Cobb et. al.) to a purposeful plateau. An obvious example of modern bluegrass propensity, Turmoil & Tinfoil are ideal ingredients to create a genuine bluegrass bonanza.
DOWNLOAD: “On the Line,” “While I’m Waiting Here,” “Living Like an Animal”