Writer, comedian and longtime banjo ace Steve Martin has been especially active on the musical front in recent years, issuing a couple of highly acclaimed bluegrass efforts both on his own and with the Steep Canyon Rangers. He also forged a fruitful partnership with singer-songwriter Edie Brickell, which debuted on 2013's Love Has Come for You. On October 30th — the same month that Martin receives a Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association — the duo issues its follow-up, So Familiar. The record was inspired in part by the pair's collaborative musical, Bright Star, which debuted in San Diego last year and opens at the Kennedy Center in D.C. in December. We're premiering the album's first single, "Won't Go Back."
The track retains the rootsy feel of Martin and Brickell's earlier collaborations but adds a new full-band folk-rock feel — and even a thumping electronica bridge. "Now at last I've made my mind up/Stubborn as a proverbial mule," sings Brickell, fleshing out the theme of the title. "I won't let you make an ass of this old fool anymore."
"All my banjo playing friends agree, when you get a new banjo there's always a new song in it waiting to be discovered," says Martin of the genesis of "Won't Go Back." "I had just acquired a new baritone banjo — one that's pitched lower than a regular banjo, and uses thicker, wound strings. I was introduced to it by Bela Fleck who spearheaded its invention. I picked it up and started noodling on it, and this banjo tune came out. I sent it off to Edie, and she worked her magic on it."
"I took a long walk one morning listening to Steve's banjo track playing on my phone and heard myself singing this song as I walked along," Brickell recalls of writing the track. "I realized I was determined to leave behind a painful way of thinking and move on to better times. So grateful Steve's banjo melody inspired me in this way."