Rather than a departure, Martin’s musical career is an extension of the storytelling impulse that drove his work as a comedian, an actor, a screenwriter, a playwright, an essayist, and a novelist.
"The Long-Awaited Album,” Steve Martin’s brand new project with the North Carolina group the Steep Canyon Rangers, is full of stories that mix humor and melancholy, whimsy and realism, rich characters and evocative details. And lots of banjos. That instrument—so dexterously, even acrobatically picked and strummed—proves just as crucial to relating these tales as the lyrics themselves, each chord and riff revealing depths to Martin’s narrators and to his musical talent.
In the eight years since The Crow introduced him as an idiosyncratic bluegrass musician, as fluid in his technique as he is knowledgeable of its history, Martin has worked to refine his craft and push boundaries, first with an album featuring the Steep Canyon Rangers (2011’s Rare Bird Alert) followed by two records and a musical with Edie Brickell. Each has shown him to be a compelling voice in the community, not only as a skilled player but as an imaginative songwriter penning lyrics that can be funny or poignant or both at once. Something for which present day society no doubt has a need.