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Bryan Sutton

Into My Own – 2014 (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by Greg Yost

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CDs by Bryan Sutton

Already widely recognized as one of the most skilled acoustic guitar players in contemporary bluegrass and Americana music and a collaborator to the stars, Bryan Sutton takes a giant leap toward establishing himself as a fully-formed artist outside the shadows of others with his fourth solo album.

The aptly-titled "Into My Own" showcases Sutton's broad range of talents more explicitly than previous releases. In addition to the production work and expectedly-stellar picking (he has been recognized six times as the International Bluegrass Music Association's Guitar Player of the Year), the new album showcases the artist's songwriting and vocal abilities more prominently than ever before. Not only did Sutton pen half of the 12 tracks, but he also sang on five.

The songs on this collection cover a lot of musical territory, and it is this variety that makes "Into My Own" an interesting listen from start to finish. Blues numbers like "Been All Around This World" and "Watson's Blues" stand in stark contrast to the spry "Cricket On The Hearth," a little slice of traditional picking paradise. Similarly, Sutton's irresistibly-catchy interpretation of Guy Clark's "Anyhow, I Love You" is countered by the brooding traditional Appalachian ballad sound of "Run Away."

While traditional sounds are prevalent throughout the recording, three of the most interesting tracks feel a bit more contemporary. "Overton Waltz," "Cumberland Reel" and "Log Jam," all of which are instrumentals composed by Sutton, bring to mind the less structured sounds championed by The Infamous Stringdusters and similar acts.

It is also worth noting that Sutton was able to leverage his all-star Rolodex to gather a cadre of top bluegrass talent in order to record this album - bringing in master musicians like Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, Bill Frisell, Greg Garrison, Ronnie McCoury and Noam Pikelny. Their deft contributions are felt throughout, but they never overshadow the fact that this is Sutton's unique musical vision.