Not Our First Goat Rodeo

Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Chris Thile (mandolin), Edgar Meyer (double bass) (Sony Classical)

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Not Our First Goat Rodeo
Semi-improvised works
Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Chris Thile (mandolin), Edgar Meyer (double bass)
Sony Classical 19439738552   43:27 mins

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Named after an aviation term for the kind of chaos where ‘a hundred things need to go right to avoid disaster’, The Goat Rodeo Sessions was a surprise hit of 2011. Bringing together superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma, mandolin player Chris Thile, bluegrass fiddler Stuart Duncan and bassist Edgar Meyer, the ensemble forged a delicious new folk-inspired, genre-bending sound that went on scoop two Grammys. Not Our First Goat Rodeo is the long-awaited follow-up and promises to be just as popular as the group’s debut album.

The Goat Rodeo sound remains as tricky as ever to classify. Bluegrass is clearly a powerful influence alongside jazz, classical and Celtic music, with some numbers through-composed and others more freely improvised. The band is effortlessly nimble, tripping through different keys and time signatures at breakneck speed, and the zippier tracks, such as the playful opening number ‘Your Coffee is a Disaster’ and reel-like ‘Voila!’, are bewitchingly catchy. However, the group shines, too, during the more reflective tracks, notably ‘Not For Lack of Trying’ which has echoes of Arvo Pärt in its melancholy restraint. Combining impeccable rigour with a sense of unbridled exuberance, the Goat Rodeo musicians have once again struck gold.

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Kate Wakeling