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Bill Frisell: Ghost Town

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illustration of Bill Frisell

Bill Frisell’s illustrious, elastic recording career began with his too little praised In Line (ECM), a mostly solo (sometimes using multi-tracked layers), mostly acoustic and unfailingly lyrical project, in its own idiosyncratic way. Eighteen odd years and many idiomatic swerves in the road later, Frisell has made his second solo album, Ghost Town, and the two titles might be viewed as bookends for the adventure so far.

What’s remarkable about Ghost Town relates directly to what’s remarkable about Frisell’s music on the whole over the past nearly two decades: However many seeming shifts in direction he takes, jazz to new music to American to Nashville to whereversville, it all hangs together, as logical elements in the Frisell puzzle. Ditto this recording, freely overdubbed, like a painter dealing with guitaristic layers. Layering on a stylistic level takes place freely, as well, as Frisell ventures a version of “When I Fall in Love” on six-string banjo (the freshest treatment of that song in years), an achingly sweet steel string take on “My Man’s Gone Now,” the country-fried, Frisell-ified stuff of “Wildwood Flower” and Hank Williams’ classic American lament “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

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