Seven tracks — does that make an EP, or full length album? A burning question for sure. In the mean time, I’m here to heartily recommend the new release from Rayna Gellert called Workin’s Too Hard. As with her previous release (reviewed here), there’s not a fiddle tune to be found, even though she is known far and wide for her skill on the instrument. After all, she grew up immersed in the playing of her talented father, banjo player Dan Gellert. But her singer-songwriter chops can stand with the best, and this record proves it.
This record houses five songs written by Rayna and two co-written with her co-producer, the inimitable Kieran Kane. She is joined by Kieran, multi-instrumentalist Kai Welch, drummer Jamie Dick and they were all recorded old-school live in one room by Grammy-winning engineer Charles Yingling. The one-room scenario lends itself to better musical communication, but the bleed across mics removes the ability to manipulate the sound of each track later — for example, auto-tuning the vocals. The band would have to sing and play perfectly. And they did! The sound they attained is exquisite. It’s like dropping the needle on a platter of vintage vinyl: warm and velvety.
LISTEN: Workin’s Too Hard
LISTEN: Grey Bird
A friend used to ask me for fun: what’s your favorite string quartet? Without waiting for my answer, he would always offer his own opinion on the matter. “Two fiddles, a banjo, and a guitar,” he would grin at me. And so, to remind us of the other side of Rayna’s talent, here is a smoking hot version of Red Steer with John Doyle shredding on guitar. (John’s newest release with Immigrant Band is covered in this previous post.)