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CD Review: John McEuen - Made in Brooklyn

Made in Brooklyn’ must be Grammy-bound for John McEuen

For John McEuen, the circle is still unbroken. The founding member of the iconic Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is back with his new album, MADE IN BROOKLYN (Chesky Records).

Perhaps the word ‘back’ isn’t quite right, because McEuen has never been away and remains as busy as ever with many diverse musical projects, including his radio show, Acoustic Traveller, now in its seventh year on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio.  Audiences at his live shows are treated to McEuen’s interpretation of acoustic musical history as well his mastery of the banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, lap steel and piano. 

In addition to his packed tour schedule – he has played more than 8,500 shows worldwide – he has created the musical scores for fourteen films and produced numerous albums for other artists, including ‘The Crow’ for his former high school buddy Steve Martin that won a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album in 2010.

McEuen’s latest project, ‘Made in Brooklyn’ is sure to please his fans; those who have followed him since his ‘Nitty Gritty’ days as well as those who have discovered his music more recently at his solo performances and recordings.

As Matt Cartsonis (vocals, mandola and guitar on the album) says, “This is a record for the archives. Recorded live, no overdubs, no effects, no plug-ins, amazing pickers, an amazing band, great material… who could ask for more?”

David Amram (penny whistle, flute and percussion) noted that when he came to the recording session, he knew it would be a treat and a learning experience. “It shows that a great musician can even teach someone in their eighties what we’re supposed to be doing better.”

Remarkably, ‘Made in Brooklyn’ was recorded – on a single binaural microphone – in only two twelve-hour days in a very chilly church that nonetheless provided the ideal acoustics for what is described as a ‘high definition’ album. The binaural ‘dummy head’ microphone is designed to replicate human hearing and capture true-to-life stereo imagery and field perception.  Listen to ‘Made in Brooklyn’ on good headphones and you will appreciate the full musical experience of this masterful recording.

The album is a unique collection of true ‘Roots’ music, and in addition to Cartsonis and Amram mentioned above, features the superb musicianship of David Bromberg, John Carter Cash, John Cowan, Andy Goessling, Steve Martin, Martha Redbone, Jay Ungar, Skip Ward and more – all of whom are master musicians in their own right, but meld together on ‘Made in Brooklyn’ to create a musical experience that somehow is greater than the sum of its parts.

‘Made in Brooklyn’ deserves a GRAMMY® in either Americana or Bluegrass categories – or both.

You can see a video, titled ‘Behind the Sound,’ featuring some of the artists sharing their stories about the recording session, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcFYM1WnzGk

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CD review by Preshias Harris for Country Music News International

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