This is an adventurous and powerful outing from Jeremy Garrett, best known as fiddler for the Infamous Stringdusters. When not touring with the ’Dusters, he’s an innovative singer/songwriter. During solo performances, he electronically loops instruments and vocals to create a multi-element sound well-suited to his impassioned performance style.
Here, Garrett largely uses more basic studio overdubbing to good effect. Indeed, a major factor of the album’s creative success comes in emphasizing unadorned acoustic sounds. However, there are notable exceptions, such as Garrett’s aptly-named experimental-style instrumental “Oracle,” the haunting multi-layered strings on the CD’s title-track, and the choir-like vocals behind “The Highway.”
With its contemporary singer-songwriter vibe, championed by Garrett’s surging rhythm guitar playing and soaring vocals, Circles is not an album for most traditionalists. Yet, Jeremy’s fiddling and mandolin playing maintain a strong roots influence throughout. (The unaccompanied Scots-Irish fiddle passage in “Baker’s Jam” is a particular delight.) The album is largely born of collaborations between Garrett and a host of friends who are also seasoned songwriters: Darrell Scott, Josh Shilling, Donna Ulisse (who co-wrote the poignant “Circles”), John Weisberger, and Oliver Wood.
Special praise must go to Jeremy and his co-producer Billy Hume, who’s also responsible for the superb engineering and resulting live-in-your-living-room sound. The quality and immediacy of Jeremy Garrett’s music deserve nothing less. (Organic Records, P.O. Box 829, Arden, NC 28704, www.organic-records.com.)RDS