Chicken & Egg
Tim O’Brien’s music has always defied categorization. The musical master deftly mixes elements of country, folk, jazz, Americana and bluegrass, then mixes it up with unique specialty instruments—like the Italian Giacomel octave mandolin heard on “My Girl’s Waiting for Me,” or the S.S. Stewart banjo heard on the jaunty “Suzanna.” On his 13th album, Tim enlists friends and fellow musicians and writers such as Stuart Duncan and the Dixie Chicks’ Martie Maguire to lend their tuneful talents to the project. “You Ate the Apple” is a joking, chiding take on the famous biblical story of Eve eating the apple, with some jazzy scat singing by Tim. He masterfully takes on a Woody Guthrie lyric in “The Sun Jumped Up,” while Bryan Sutton (who once played for Ricky Skaggs) contributes some fleet-fingered bluegrass picking to “All I Want.” Former SteelDrivers member Chris Stapleton’s high harmony glistens on the bluegrass-gospel cut “Sinner,” while the band has some fun with the Jewish-influenced “Mother Mary.” Tim, who dedicates the album to the memory of his late father, Frank, is clearly having a good time and is at the top of his game.