Music

[Non-Comedic]

Steve Martin

The Crow

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Yes, it’s that Steve Martin, adding musician to a resume that already includes comedian, actor, playwright, novelist and screenwriter. Actually, Martin’s been playing the banjo at least as long as he’s been a comedian, and even won a Grammy in 2001 for strumming on Earl Scruggs’ “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” His first music album is a traditional bluegrass affair, featuring pluckers Scruggs, Tony Trischka and Pete Wernick on a mostly instrumental collection of 15 original tunes.

The Details

Steve Martin
Three stars
Beyond the Weekly
Steve Martin

There are also four songs with lyrics penned by Martin, although he only sings one. “Late for School” proves that Martin is a better lyricist than a vocalist, but it’s charmingly goofy and indicates that he could probably put together a pretty good kids’ album. “Pretty Flowers” is as lovely as one would expect a Dolly Parton-Vince Gill duet to be, and “Calico Train,” with vocals by Irish singer Mary Black, has a haunting, old-fashioned Celtic lilt to it (one that’s shared with appropriately titled instrumental “Freddie’s Lilt”).

Martin is a perfectly good banjo player, and a decent songwriter as well, but he’s not a virtuoso, and he isn’t ever going to be. Could he have attracted such an impressive cast of supporting players if he weren’t already a famous actor? Maybe not, but he doesn’t abuse that power; every guest is well-utilized, and Martin’s presence is entirely unobtrusive. Without his name, The Crow would merely be a solid, fairly anonymous bluegrass release; to his credit, that’s mostly what it is even with his picture on the front.

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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