Ben Plotnick Greenland
Published Sep 04, 2016Originally from Calgary, Ben Plotnick moved to Toronto a few years ago, and in a city with no shortage of excellent fiddle players, he quickly became a respected go-to performer, playing everything from bluegrass to folk to country. This new solo album, featuring all original music (with the exception of the traditional "Redwing"), is a celebration of his newfound love of western swing, a genre he explored in depth as a member of Toronto's impressive ten-piece band, the Double Cuts.
Plotnick's got a real knack for melody and arrangement, so his tunes get the western swing style down pat. The jazziest of the country music genres, it's perfectly suited to his playful fiddle style. His instrumental wizardry, paired with danceable rhythm, will have half the audience listening intently while the rest tears up the floorboards. Surprisingly, for a fiddle player's solo album, it's not at all lacking in the vocal department, either; about half of the tracks are songs whose lyrics are just the sort of croony poetry the genre calls for.
Greenland's core band includes some of Toronto's finest acoustic musicians: Adrian Gross on guitar, James McEleney on bass and Andrew Collins, who recorded and co-produced the album, on mandolin. It also features special guests and musical collaborators from all over Plotnick's stylistic map, such as vocalists Jamie Oliver and Angie Hilts, both of the Double Cuts, Jarred Albright of Rye and Fairytales, Kelsey McNulty (vocals, accordion) and John Williams (clarinet) of the Conductors, and string duo-mate Kaitlyn Raitz (cello, vocals).
Plotnick recently left Toronto for Nashville, and as "One Goodbye (A Toronto Love Song)" suggests, Greenland is both a product of his time in the city and a fitting token of his affection. Part love letter, part family album, it feels like the sly musical wink of a man who knows he'll be back. (Independent)