“Banjo Banjo” by Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn

Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn
Banjo Banjo
Rounder Records

By Aaron Keith Harris

If you haven’t yet checkd out Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn’s exquisite self-titled album, it looks like you can still get a taste of their work by heading over to The Bluegrass Situation to check out Banjo Banjo, a six-song companion EP to one of my favorite records of the last couple of years.

The three instrumental tracks—a live cut of the baroque “Banjo Banjo,” the meditative “Evening in Transylvania,” and a soaring workout on the 1980s hair metal anthem “The Final Countdown”—are, as one might expect, perfect, but the real bonus here is Washburn’s incandescent vocal work. Live cuts of “Railroad” and “Shotgun Blues” showcase the stiletto attack she uses to enliven familiar themes, while her performance of a the Chinese folk song “Hao Hua Hong” is a genre-melding tour de force.