|Wayfaring Strangers' 2001 Debut|
Soon enough, I'd discovered Glaser's odd/breathtaking jazz/bluegrass/klezmer/folk collective Wayfaring Strangers (Shifting Sands of Time, 2001, and This Train, 2003), including the singing and fiddling of Tracy Bonham.
Bonham was not a jazz singer, nor was she a bluegrass or klezmer or folk artist, exactly. But that's the kind of band Wayfaring Strangers is. Soon enough, I found myself reviewing her third album, Blink the Brightest, a collection that I still find irresistible today. "DUMBO Sun" and "Whether You Fall" are hit records in my universe any day—catchy, smart, fun, melodic, a bit sassy.
Masts of Manhatta (reviewed today at www.PopMatters.com), and it is nearly as wonderful. The sound is a bit more acoustic, a bit more country. Bonham and her husband now live partly in Brooklyn and partly in Woodstock, NY, which is supposed to account for the blend of sounds on the disc. But this is not just some mid-career shift toward country sounds. In fact, the disc contains all the great pop arrangements from Blink, with idiosyncratic song structures and off-beat stories in the lyrics. The sound is just a bit more rootsy, and it wonderfully features guitarist Smoky Hormel and his band.
Manhatta is one of the treats of the 2010 summer.