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10 String Symphony

Generation Frustration – 2018 (Taste Note)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by 10 String Symphony

It's hard to imagine a combo that attempts so much with so little in hand. A collaboration between Grammy-nominated fiddle player Christian Sedelmyer, an ex-member of The Jerry Douglas Band, and singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Baiman, 10 String Symphony relies on little more than two voices, fiddle and banjo to convey some timeless trappings. It's a minimal combination to be sure, but after their sophomore set "Weight of the World" reaped its rewards from NPR, Billboard's bluegrass charts and the public, the duo have managed to create a solid impact even with a bare-boned sound.

"Generation Frustration," was produced by Kris Drever, member of the contemporary Scottish folk band Lau. It digs even deeper into their unfettered essence with a purity of purpose that evokes grand ambitions in the simplest of settings. It attempts to bridge today's polarized divide and find common ground between emotional and philosophical extremes. The lyrics to the title track sum up the sentiments succinctly:

"I could write down the facts hard as concrete
Scientifically explain the way the heart beats
But I sit here instead with my weapon of choice
The dancing of chords under purposeful voice
For I know it's not fact but feeling that guides
Decisions we make when it comes to the time
And I wonder if songs ever reach stubborn minds
Can I make you believe we're on the same side?".

It's a worthy intent, and if the message sometimes seems blurred by the sheer novelty of the pair's execution, it's there for discovery regardless. Songs, such as "Generation Frustration," "Running Around," "One Way Telephone" and "Throw Away the Moon," find clear consistency both in tone and treatment, providing a unified approach overall. And given the string driven surge of these songs overall, the duo's determination is never in doubt. Here's hoping that the generational frustration is eased, at least momentarily, but the stark sentiments offered up in its place.