Album Review: I'm a Stranger Here by The Devil Makes Three
Great, Based on 4 Critics
AllMusic - 90 Based on rating 9/10
The Devil Makes Three are a very special trio, mixing old country blues, gospel, banjo reels, ragtime, and back-country stomp into a potent brand of folk-punk that has made their live shows near legendary. The band's albums (there have been five of them before this one) are pretty memorable, too, but I'm a Stranger Here, produced in Nashville by Buddy Miller (who also plays guitar and baritone guitar on the album), has a warm and coherent sound to it that harnesses the band's chaotic energy without denying it, making it arguably the trio's best studio outing to date. Lead singer and guitarist Pete Bernhard's songs have always been remarkably timeless, as if they come from another era but also belong to this one, a feel that Miller's production, which mostly features the band in a single-room live setting, wonderfully captures.
Before the fall of 2011, the Devil Makes Three had released three studio albums and a live record, slowly but surely growing their grassroots fanbase from California’s Bay Area outward. None of their records had really successfully captured what the band was all about, though. The Devil Makes Three was one of those bands you “had to see live” to really understand.
Following a string of indie releases since 2002, the Devil Makes Three have taken a large step forward on I'm A Stranger Here, enlisting producer Buddy Miller, whose masterful touch has brought out the best in this drummer-less acoustic trio. Their blend of bluegrass, blues and ragtime isn't unique within the current old-timey undercurrent of Americana, but frontman Pete Bernhard's songwriting contains enough contemporary flair to provide a solid backbone for the album's ten tracks. It creates plenty of room for Bernhard's cohorts, Cooper McBean and Lucia Turino, to dig some deep grooves and shoot off some instrumental fireworks.
The Devil Makes ThreeI’m a Stranger Here(New West)Rating: 3 out of 5 stars Tattoos and acoustic old-timey string bands are about as rare as bluegrass musicians with multiple facial piercings. But body ink is just one aspect that makes punky trio The Devil Makes Three so adaptable to crossing genres and playing stages as diverse as Bonnaroo and The Telluride Bluegrass Festival. With three previous studio albums (and two live ones, which attest to the group’s spirited stage shows) already in their catalog, Buddy Miller– aka Mr.