Nashville, Tenn. — Mountain Home Music has announced the pending release of Stringworks, the newest project from Kristin Scott Benson, four-time winner of the IBMA Instrumental Performer of the Year Award for Banjo.
Stringworks is slated for availability on July 22, 2016.
The new solo project is a mosaic of original instrumentals that may be called progressive, and the classic driving Bluegrass style for which she has become known as a member of the multi-award winning Grascals.
"I've always thought of a solo project as a musical snapshot," Kristin says. "It shows how you've grown and reflects your musical interests at the time. My last banjo record was called Second Season and was released in 2009, so it is certainly time for a new snapshot."
The musical textures and song arrangements on Stringworks display new angles to the banjo instrument. Benson is joined by a who’s who of award-winning players; Cody Kilby (guitar), Tim Surrett (bass), Jim VanCleve and Adam Haynes (fiddle), and husband, Wayne Benson (mandolin).
"I think every player enjoys the chance to feature instrumentals, particularly originals," Kristin says. "Band albums may have one, but a solo record gives you the chance to do as many as you want."
Benson wrote four of the instrumentals on Stringworks, included a never-before-recorded original from banjo great, Bill Emerson, and as she did on her earlier solo efforts, chose one standard.
"I think the six instrumentals are a nice cross-section of what I like," she says. "Some of the tunes have different feels, melodies and arrangements, while some are straight-ahead bluegrass."
Each song is a unique piece of art; six instrumentals and six vocal tunes. The pastoral "When Fall Comes to New England" features one of the foremost female vocalists in Bluegrass, Claire Lynch. A powerful original Gospel tune, "You Gotta Climb Over the Cross," is sung by Shawn Lane of Blue Highway. The lead off track, "Great Waterton," is an exciting showcase for Benson and her accompanying musicians, brimming with prowess for heady music. In juxtaposition is the traditional, yet equally impressive style, of the classic "Foggy Mountain Top."
An all-star cast of additional guest vocalists includes Chris Jones, Mickey Harris and Grant Williams. Kristin's Grascals bandmates, Terry Eldredge and John Bryan, lend their talents as well.
"I made the decision to record six vocal songs because, as a banjo player, what really drives me is melody and the nature of a song... the message it conveys," Kristin explains. "Pairing material that is special to me with ideal vocalists is a privilege, and I love being a part of that process."
Stringworks offers a powerful sense of where Kristin Scott Benson is musically. There is a taste of instrumental depth and diversity that fans may not have heard from her before.
"I hope that people enjoy the album as a whole, get a sense for the vocal material that I'm drawn to, and the kinds of tunes I like to write," Kristin says. "I hope they're excited by some of the songs and moved by others. In short, I just hope they learn something new about me and like what they hear."