Review of Love Has Come For You Album by Steve Martin

We learn something new every day; in researching the background story behind Love Has Come For You, I found out that the artist Steve Martin who's partially responsible is in fact the Steve Martin - you know, Roxanne, The Jerk, All of Me - and that he's more than just a part time frustrated muso desperate for some kind of alternative recognition.

Steve Martin Love Has Come For You Album

Cynics might say that his choice of collaborator makes sense, given that both he and Edie Brickell both peaked in a showbiz sense during the late 1980's, the latter with The New Bohemians on the multi-platinum Shooting Rubber Bands At The Stars. This would be unbelievably harsh as individually each has remained enshrined in lesser spotlights, sustaining themselves on more idiosyncratic pursuits.

Martin, in fact, has been playing the banjo since the early 1960's, appearing at the iconic Grand Old Opry in 2009, and it's his consummate playing that perfectly complements his partner's sardonic lyrics, a collection of parched fairy tales and joyful, rustic character pieces.

Produced by British veteran Peter Asher (Linda Rondstadt, Neil Diamond, 10,000 Maniacs and erm... Boyzone) and featuring an elite bunch of folks the likes of Esperanza Spalding, Waddy Wachtel, Nickel Creek alumni Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins, Love Has Come For You is as elegantly steeped in the bluegrass traditions as possible, alive with a vivacious and affectionate energy which makes the ancient formula breathe again.

Fair enough, this is about as far from the modern pop world as possible, but the gorgeous opener When You Go To Asheville, with its luscious harmonies and plaintive fiddle played out over a tale of love lost to the bright lights of North Carolina's 11th biggest city. In the wrong hands, the likes of Get Along Stray Dog could simply be too square dance and Waltons twee, but, thankfully, the ensemble cast rarely take themselves too seriously and with tongues in cheek their sense of fun carries the day.    

The Bluegrass template to which all of this is indebted is itself partially distilled from the folk tales and reels of our little islands, and probably not appropros of that at all, the best moments here are slightly more Celtic in feel: Sarah Jane & the Iron Mountain Baby is full of parlour charm, heart-warming and with a communal round the fire chorus, whilst the arpeggios of Who You Gonna Take defy anyone with a shred of humanity not to lift up their hem and dance a chaotic jig.

In such a calculating music world dominated by focus groups and the ruthless drift of public tastes, Love Has Come For You is you feel the almost perfect antidote.  Coming in at thrifty thirty six minutes in total, its thirteen songs are also compact enough to portray a cultural exercise in miniature, creating a model in accessibility. Lovely music made by people who love what they're doing is so rare these days; this is a record to be cherished.

Andy Peterson

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