Imagine the folksinger meeting with the record agent. The two stakeholders sit down in an office somewhere, and the musician excitedly pitches his next project idea: “I want to make an album of songs completely accompanied by a mandolin choir!” And then imagine the lead balloon of his agent’s enthusiasm as it falls to the floor with a thud. Because how does one market a songwriter/mandolin choir album? Who is the target audience for such an eclectic project?
Luckily, it seems Kevin Breit had no one to answer to in creating this independent recording, and the target audience for his album Field Recording is, essentially, people who like good music. The players in the 14-piece Upper York Mandolin Orchestra, who have been around (and led by various members of the Dooley family) for — seriously — over 100 years, dispel any apprehension about the versatility of their chosen instruments. From the more predictable French cafe-esque opening riffs in tunes like “Nothing About Us” and “Weigh Me Down” to the deep strumming groove of “Boom Chicka Boom,” these players can handle pretty much any style Breit throws at them.
And he does give his players a stylistic workout. Breit’s been in the business for awhile, and his songwriting is fully-formed. A lovely ballad like “There Was A Girl” is complemented by the goofy two-feel of “King Kong Strut” and the funky intensity of “Johnny Dollar.” The various timbres of the mandolin family are expertly arranged by Breit and Thomas Dooley III, and always provide a lush and capable accompaniment that somehow never overwhelms. There’s also some pretty impressive solos scattered throughout the songs.
Field Recording proves that established musicians with eclectic ideas should be nurtured. What may seem like a risk on paper may offer pleasant surprises in real life. Kevin Breit and the Upper York Mandolin Orchestra know what they’re doing. You should listen to them do it.
Case in point, the delightful waltz “Heavyweight Champion of the World.” Check it out for a dose of Breit + Mandolin magic:
Kevin Breit and the Upper York Mandolin Orchestra: Field Recording is available on iTunes
Field Recording proves that established musicians with eclectic ideas should be nurtured. Kevin Breit and the Upper York Mandolin Orchestra know what they're doing. You should listen to them do it.