Music review: The Goat Rodeo Sessions

The Goat Rodeo Sessions
Featuring Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile.

Readers, meet my latest musical obsession.

My first encounter with The Goat Rodeo Sessions can be summed up in this short playlet.

SCENE: Me at the breakfast table, browsing the Arts section of The New York Times.

ME: (laughing) There’s an album coming out called The Goat Rodeo Sessions.
MUM: What?!
ME: It’s with Yo-Yo Ma and a bunch of other string players, but that is the funniest title ever! I have to hear this.

Of course, I was picturing an actual goat rodeo.

I forgot about the album until I started up my Spotify a few days later and found it featured on the front page. After the first track, I decided the album needed its own playlist. By the time I’d listened to it all the way through, I’d added it to my holiday wish list and set it on highest priority.

Because this album is seriously great. It’s technically classified as bluegrass, but it has a distinctly Celtic feel that tugs at all the right emotions and makes my heart sing. The songs are all so different (although you will hear variations on a theme through some of them), yet they all fit together and give the album a really nice arc from beginning to end. The first track, “Attaboy,” has a wonderfully celebratory quality, and the music continues to build in raucousness like a seisún in a pub until it resolves to its original theme. “Where’s My Bow,” the fourth track, is dramatic and mysterious all at once and reminds me of the score for a period drama. “Here in Heaven,” the fifth track, which features vocals by Chris Thile and Aiofe O’Donovan, has lodged itself so firmly in my head that I find myself humming it everywhere. And the final track, “Goat Rodeo,” is Nashville personified by strings.

The Goat Rodeo Sessions has turned into my go-to album: I listen to it while I work, I dance around the kitchen to it when I cook, I put it on when I just want something pretty playing in the background. If I had a car, I’d probably love having it on while driving too.

In an interview, the artists explain that they chose the title from the Urban Dictionary, which defines “goat rodeo” as a situation that order cannot be brought to at any time, and how anything could have gone wrong with the production of this album. I think it’s safe to say they got it right.

Here is said interview. Watch, listen some clips. My apologies in advance if you become as hooked on The Goat Rodeo Sessions as I am.


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