If you were a betting person, you could have put money on the new album by Michael Carpenter and the Banks Brothers being a winner. Granted, the odds would have been short: Carpenter is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist as well as a busy producer; Jy-Perry Banks is one of Australia’s most in demand pedal steel players (he also plays dobro and guitar), and Zane Banks is known for his electric country picking, as well as banjo and flat-picked acoustic guitar. But that bet would have been a completely safe one – because the album, Introducing …, is nonstop excellence from the first track, ‘All This Drinkin”, to the last, ‘100 Miles to Go’.
On a superficial level – the level where an album is on in the background and you’re not listening closely – Introducing … is great entertainment. Its twelve tracks – which cover honkytonk, bluegrass, country and alt country styles – move along at a fine pace and you can hear in the voices of all three, who share singing duties, that they had a really good time recording these songs. And when joy is that evident it is infectious.
On a more technical level, of course expertise is to be expected from this trio, although that doesn’t mean it should be taken for granted. Just because the three men know exactly what they’re doing doesn’t mean they were actually going to be able to work together well. The fact that they do is, no doubt, due in part to their professionalism. But it’s because of something else that can be heard laced throughout this album: the commitment to serve something greater than themselves. It’s there in each sung note that sounds like delight, in each run of notes on a guitar that takes on a life of its own inside the song.
Devotional music is something we associate with religion, but devotion can take many forms. In yoga world it is known as bhakti, and it is expressed through song and dance, usually ecstatic in nature. Introducing … is a bhakti offering from Michael Carpenter and the Banks Brothers, a present to anyone who wants to have their spirits raised, who needs a lift in their step, who simply just wants to listen to a damn fine record. And if you’re a music nerd there’s also plenty here for you – it could take you fifty listens to really appreciate everything that’s going on here but they’re fifty listens you won’t regret.
Introducing … is out now through Big Radio Records/Social Family Records.
Order CD/vinyl at https://bigradiorecords.bigcartel.com