What a pleasant surprise Steve Martin and Edie Brickell spring upon us with “Love Has Come for You.”
Yes, that Steve Martin – comic, author, actor and banjo-picking partner of North Carolina’s Steep Canyon Rangers. And, yes, that Edie Brickell – critically acclaimed crafter of 1988’s “Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars,” and Mrs. Paul Simon. Yes, that Paul Simon.
Although “elegant” is not a word often associated with the five-string banjo, in his capable hands Martin makes it so. It’s the perfect complement to Brickell’s distinctive, sensuous vocals.
All 13 tracks were written by Martin and Brickell, who are joined by a cast of top pickers, including the Steep Canyon boys as well as Matt Rollings, Waddy Wachtel, and other Nashville and L.A. session pros.
A quiet optimism runs throughout the CD, often in the face of sorrow or disappointment. In the title track, the “love that has come” is a child a mother chose to keep against her family’s urging of adoption. “When You Get to Asheville” is a compelling narrative with the singer asking his heartthrob to keep in touch, letting him know that “If it don’t work out/ You can turn around/ And come on back to me/ You can come on home to me.”
With Martin playing both bluegrass and clawhammer banjo styles, he and Brickell celebrate stray dogs, Siamese cats, friendship and “Sarah Jane and the Iron Mountain Baby.” With “Remember Me this Way,” they close this delightful romp with a plea many of us can understand: “Painter would you paint my portrait/ Paint me wearing the finest clothes in town/Make me look like I’m somebody/ Make me a little younger than I am now.”
Correspondent Jack Bernhardt