Did Steve Martin rock his signature arrow-through-the-head prop at these bluegrass-y sessions? Hard to tell; except for unfussy harmonies, he expresses himself only via his stately, joyous banjo-plunking. The star is Edie Brickell, the hippie-pop one-hit wonder (and Mrs. Paul Simon), whose sassy vocals feel down-home but all her own. The songs tap folk tradition without getting stuck in it; they’re full of struggling lovers, an ’84 Ford, a baby in a suitcase and some memorable melodies.
Steve Martin & Edie BrickellLove Has Come for You(Rounder)4 out of 5 starsOn paper, this unlikely partnership between funnyman comic, actor, playwright, author and most significantly, Grammy Award-winning banjo player Steve Martin with hippie-ish, New Bohemian pop vocalist Edie Brickell, is an unlikely pairing. It seems like something cooked up in a boardroom marketing meeting to increase the visibility of both artists. Add veteran producer Peter Asher (Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt) for even greater commercial – and editorial – prospects.
Everyone should realize by now that Steve Martin is more than just a comedian who started off his career in the comedy clubs with an arrow through his head and a five-string banjo as a prop. He's written short stories, novels, plays, and who knows how many film scripts. He's an actor and a serious art collector, and his work, however funny it may be at times, really arcs closer to human philosophy than it does standup or slapstick, although Martin knows how to do a pratfall with the best of the Saturday Night Live crew.
Steve Martin isn’t a new bohemian and Edie Brickell isn’t a wild and crazy guy, but the two part-time musos have nonetheless decided that they should work together. He handles the banjo; she is in charge of the vocals. The resulting tunes strive for a rustic, Appalachian sensibility that never quite seems genuine—more Aunt Jemima than grade-A maple syrup.
More often than not (a lot more often than not), musical recordings by actors, comedians, or other such artists amount to little more than vanity projects. Remember Eddie Murphy’s foray into pop, or Bruce Willis’s R&B album? Yeah, no one else does either, and for good reason. Such ill-conceived releases are perhaps the most telling expression of the egomania that grips so many of our culture’s artists and celebrities.