With one eye on using the banjo to showcase America’s rich heritage and the other pulling the noble instrument from its most familiar arena into new and unique realms, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn’s second album Echo in the Valley is simultaneously familiar and wildly innovative.
Echo in the Valley is the follow up to Béla and Abigail’s acclaimed, self-titled debut that earned the 2016 Grammy for Best Folk Album. This time around, the mission was to take their double banjo combination of three finger and clawhammer styles to the next level. The results are fascinating.
Béla and Abigail’s creative process on Echo in the Valley is sonically made manifest in the record’s major themes of harmony, empathy, and surrender. The intense, intimate collaboration put forward on this project required a spirit of staying strong, but also a willingness to release into the other’s ideas to create something new, possibly something bigger and more beautiful than one could do on one’s own.
Béla has continuously broken new musical ground with his instrument. He is a fifteen-time Grammy award winner, having been nominated in more categories than any other instrumentalist in Grammy history. Abigail is deftly following in the footsteps of the founding mothers of folk and has become a prominent voice of old-time in our time while bringing to light those ancient sounds of American and Far East cultures in new and exciting ways.