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Billy Strings plays hard and he lives hard, picking so fast and intensely that he has been known to break multiple strings per song. He bases the songs he writes on the hard lives he grew up around in the abandoned rural communities of America. His new album, Turmoil & Tinfoil, taps into a deep vein of psychedelia in Americana, referencing everything from the Grateful Dead to Sturgill Simpson, but all underlaid by Strings’s undeniable virtuosity and his knowledge of the roots of American music. He is one of the most beloved young bluegrass guitarists today within the bluegrass community, and his front porch in East Nashville is constantly filled up with Nashville’s best roots musicians just picking up a storm.
The tricky part of making Turmoil & Tinfoil was translating Strings’s incendiary live show into the studio. Returning to his home state of Michigan, he enlisted acoustic roots wizard Glenn Brown (Greensky Bluegrass) as producer and centered the music around his new band, featuring Drew Matulich on mandolin with banjo prodigy Billy Failing and much-loved Nashville bassist Brad Tucker. Rich with special guests, Turmoil & Tinfoil shows off Strings’s East Nashville community of picking friends, among them Miss Tess, Molly Tuttle, John Mailander, Shad Cobb, and Peter “Madcat” Ruth. Of special note is a virtuosic duet between Strings and bluegrass guitarist Bryan Sutton on “Salty Sheep” that shows the speed, precision, and creative craftsmanship of bluegrass when it is done right.
It’s hard not to get swept up in the excitement of his lightning-fast flat-picking when you see him play in person.
The lead vocalist (Billy) has a voice straight out of that film with George Clooney O Brother, Where Art Thou and if they ever make a follow-up to that film these guys would be a shoe-in for all of the music.