Abigail Washburn: City of Refuge

Album review
Abigail Washburn: City of Refuge

Abigail Washburn

City of Refuge

Label: Rounder
Media: CD
Genre: Rock/pop

Singer, songwriter, banjo player, and storyteller Abigail Washburn bridges East and West on a collection of enigmatic songs that evoke wandering spirits and restless souls. This isn’t the first time that Washburn, who studied law in Beijing and is fluent in Chinese, has tapped the music of the Orient: her critically acclaimed 2005 debut Song of the Traveling Daughter featured an instrumental that wove together an old-time banjo tune and a traditional Chinese folk song (“Backstep Cindy/Purple Bamboo”). And though this third release includes guzheng master Wu Fei and the Mongolian string band Hanggai, the Chinese influences are quite subtle. Washburn has crafted picaresque songs about immigrants and rich girls, all in search of refuge, that mix folk, backwoods spirituals, and indie-pop while alternating between raw and ethereal, traditional and orchestral. Bill Frisell provides atmospheric jazz guitar, the Decemberists’ Chris Funk contributes bowed and plucked dulcimer, My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel plays pedal steel, the Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor and Morgan Jahnig sing back-up vocals, longtime collaborator Rayna Gellbert plays fiddle, Turtle Island Quartet fiddler Jeremy Kittel supplies the string arrangements, and Washburn turns on the charm. 

More Info

  • primary artist, Abigail Washburn
  • CD

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