Nov 6, 2020 | OPINION | By Psalm Delaney | Illustration by Jubilee Rivera-Hernandez
As winter approaches, grab a cup of tea or your favorite fair-trade coffee roast and a warm blanket, then queue “Not Our First Goat Rodeo.”
Released on June 29, the 10-track album is a gift to the world during such tumultuous times. The masterpiece is brought to us by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, bassist Edgar Meyer, violinist and mandolinist Stuart Duncan, and multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Chris Thile as a sequel to their debut album “The Goat Rodeo Sessions”from 2011.
Nearly a decade later, their sophomore album still exhibits the same unique chemistry. Contrary to their 2011 composition, “Not Our First Goat Rodeo” features three pieces that include melodious vocals by Aoife O’Donovan and Chris Thile.
The seamless dash and dart of Yo-Yo Ma’s cello, complemented by the fairy-like melodies of Chris Thile’s mandolin, Stuart Duncan’s harmonious fiddle, and Meyer’s driving basslines, will surely provide a 45-minute break from the world’s anxiety and uncertainty.
It is a perfect choice as you study and prepare for the end of this block. This work of art is dynamic, rich, engaging, and appropriately emotional with songs that will immediately lift your mood and make you want to dance.
If you doubt what I am saying about this album, stop reading and go listen to the album’s third song, “The Trappings,” right now. Come back after you have listened to it.
Do you believe me now? O’Donovan and Thile’s vocals and dancing mandolin are beautifully accentuated by the harmonious waves of Yo-Yo Ma’s cello and the roaring undertones of Meyer’s bass. This piece is truly remarkable. I believe that it is the best piece on the entire album. Oh, how magical it would have been to be in the studio while the artists recorded it.
The song is an excellent showcase of the group’s eclectic blend of classical, folk, bluegrass, and pop genres that is likely to please any music taste.
When reflecting on the piece, Yo-Yo Ma said, “‘The Trappings’ came out of a question of aesthetics. I believe Edgar was talking about pop music, how he used to think, ‘Oh, if something’s too poppy, I’m not going to like it.’ But that’s like saying ‘classical music is boring,’ or that jazz, rock, rhythm and blues are one way, or even ‘people from different countries are’… You know that as soon as you make a general statement like that, it’s not true, because you can think of hundreds, thousands of exceptions. ‘The Trappings’ is one of those.”
We’ve been through a lot this year.“Not Our First Goat Rodeo” is one of the few diamonds in the rough of 2020. Go check it out. Give it a listen. Trust me, it will boost your mood and calm your nerves. Dive into this magical 45-minute escape. You won’t regret it.