Album Review – Home, Billy Strings
Written by VIC Radio on October 15, 2020
By Arlo Catanzaro
Billy Strings is the Psychedelic Bluegrass player everybody should listen to, no matter your opinion of Bluegrass as a genre. What makes Billy Strings so amazing is how fantastic he is at playing the acoustic guitar. His style of picking is extraordinary, and I don’t think there is another artist that could even contend with Billy’s mastery of the acoustic guitar.
Billy Strings’ second studio album “Home” was released in September of last year. By far my favorite album of 2019, it is well worth the listen. I will admit I wasn’t an instant fan of Billy; but as I delved deeper into the album, I was awe-struck by the beautiful psychedelic, cosmic, bluegrass energy.
The album is a “trip” in the most literal sense. While the first half of the album builds up energy leading to a peak, the second half of the album is the release and eventual dispersal of said energy.
“Taking Water” is the intro track of the album and it does an amazing job at preparing you for the rest of the album to follow. The track doesn’t delve too much into either Bluegrass or Psychedelic, but, instead, finds a good mix of both. By having Taking Water as the first track, I think Billy is trying to say that this album isn’t your normal Bluegrass album, but it also isn’t
going to be a jam heavy, experimental and effect heavy Psychedelic album.
“Home” is the title track of the album and due to that, it follows a similar style to the whole album. Home starts slow, but eventually builds up to what I can only call a musical stampede. It uses a lot of Psychedelic techniques, and has a longer jam, but is not the peak of the album. It’s an incredible song and if you are iffy about listening to the album, trying listening to Home first.
“Highway Hypnosis” is the peak of the album and by far is the most Psychedelic song on the album, in my opinion. Billy has said this song is about when you are driving so long you start to fall asleep and don’t understand how much time has passed. The song perfectly catches that
with an extended jam and studio effects commonly used in Psychedelic music which can make the five-minute song feel like an eternity; especially in the right state of mind.
“Watch it Fall” is one of the most unique songs I have heard in a long time. The lyrics are about global warming, ignorant leaders and how much time we have before it all comes crumbling down. Even though climate change is talked about a lot in society (for good reasons) it seems rare for artists to write songs about it. Billy Strings approaches the topic in a very real
and sensible way and it’s also a great song that will make you tap your foot or do a little jig.
“Guitar Peace” and “Freedom” are the last two tracks on the album, and they are much gentler songs which lean toward Bluegrass. The tracks seem to be saying “it’s over, you can chill out now.” I think Guitar Peace and Freedom aren’t the best songs on the album but are perfect tracks to end the album.
Billy Strings has also been extremely active during 2020, even with a global pandemic. Over the summer he had multiple virtual concerts down in Nashville where he had a special guest every night. He also recently did a series of drive-in and virtual concerts. If you want to listen to any of these concerts, a couple of them are on YouTube but the rest are on Nugs.net which does require a subscription.
I am curious to see where Billy Strings goes, as he is definitely a rising star in the Jamband scene. He was supposed to be the artist in residence for the Peach Festival this year and I hope that remains the same for next year’s Peach Festival because I already have tickets. Billy Strings is a once in a lifetime kind of artist and if you ever have the chance to see him live, DO IT!