Coming up with a new adjective to describe mandolin player, songwriter and singer Chris Thile is difficult. That's because all the good descriptions have been taken. Critics used "child prodigy" to describe his music when Chris released his first solo album at the age of 12. "Mandolin virtuoso" was being used by the time he released his third solo CD at 20, and "Grammy winner" came into play the next year when the Best Contemporary Folk Album award went to Chris as a part of the band Nickel Creek. Chris Thile's latest solo project is How To Grow A Woman From The Ground.
The album's opening track, the instrumental "Watch 'at Breakdown," serves as a good introduction to the band Chris Thile chose for his new CD. Noam Pikelney's banjo starts the song. By the time 30 seconds have passed, you've heard from all the pickers involved.
The release of his new CD, How To Grow A Woman From The Ground finds Chris Thile at a crossroads. Nickel Creek, his primary band since 1989, will soon go on an indefinite hiatus. At 25, and feeling the effects of a recent divorce, Chris moved to New York City from Nashville.
Chris said these life changes laid the foundation for the songs on How to Grow A Woman From the Ground? The self-produced record is a mix of originals and cover songs that explore all facets of love, including heartbreak and healing. In "I'm Yours If You Want Me," hope makes an appearance.
A sense of loss seems to be behind many of songs Chris Thile covers on How To Grow A Woman From the Ground. They include songs from The Strokes, Jimmie Rodgers, and Gillian Welch. "Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground" is a White Stripes original. But you'd never know that from the version on Chris Thile's record. His bluegrass arrangement turns the rock song into one that sounds like was always performed in this style.
Over 13 albums, Chris Thile has incorporated jazz, rock, pop, and classical influences into his records, earning both raves and complaints for pushing bluegrass beyond its sometimes restrictive borders. And while How to Grow A Woman From the Ground is not a traditional bluegrass record, it does include five instrumentals, enough to keep fans of Chris' picking, rather than his singing, happy.