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Feature Review: Katie Glassman, Snapshot

Katie Glassman
[Self-released (2012)]

Though Snapshot is not Katie Glassman’s debut CD—her first was a collection of Texas fiddle tunes—her stunning sophomore effort introduces a major talent to the rest of the world. She’s a contest championship fiddler well versed in western swing, jazz and gypsy styles but her sophomore effort extends her artistry beyond just being a brilliant instrumentalist accompanied by top flight sidemen playing everything from swanky trumpets, guitars, bass, splattery tubas, and mandolins to tinky toy pianos, organs, dancing accordions, cello, willowy steel guitars, and earthy dobros. (Mandolinist Sam Bush and dobroist Sally Van Meter are listed among the entourage). Besides showcasing her acumen on fiddle, it’s also apparent that she’s a versatile composer steeped in the aforementioned genres as well as a quality vocalist who could probably make it on that alone if she so chose. Her jazz-based vocals are controlled, supple, delicate, often wispy and frequently breathtaking, and occasionally there’s a hint that she could contend as a radio pop darling as well (“Long White Dress”).

The compositions are similarly intriguing—western swing (“Uncle John,” “Bye Bye Boise”) that would make Bob Wills snaps his fingers and exclaim his trademark “a-ha!”; a waltzing musette that plops you onto a Parisian sidewalk café listening to a bunch of well-behaved, tip-hungry gypsies. With its lazy Appalachian feel with trumpets and droning suspense, “Devil’s Plea” resembles a miniature three-act play where, eventually, the protagonist submits to his addiction —and the devil—once and for all. It’s a deep listen with countless impressive moments, such as Sean McGowan’s jazz guitar riffs (“Rain Rain”) and Eric Moon’s dazzling ivory tinkling anywhere the needle drops.

Needless to say, each track differs from its predecessor. In short, a sonic mouthful.

—Dan Willging (Denver, CO)

The title track:

Here she is kicking butts and taking names at the Colorado Fiddle Championships:

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