Actor, comedian and bluegrass musician Steve Martin plans to release The Long-Awaited Album on September 22nd through Rounder Records. On his latest LP, Martin reconnects with his backing band the Steep Canyon Rangers, who previously contributed to 2011’s Rare Bird Alert, 2013’s Love Has Come for You and 2014’s Live.
Martin also unveiled his record’s lead single. “Caroline” is a banjo-slathered number that manages to be unfailingly jolly even as it dissects a brutal break-up. The song opens not long after the title character has unceremoniously dumped Martin’s narrator, and he’s still hung up on her: “Can you tell me why you left me standing in the parking structure/ Caroline, I was the almost-perfect boyfriend ever for you/ And you even said that to me one time at the Olive Garden.”
“Research has shown that there are many, many songs with the title Caroline,” Martin tells Rolling Stone. “However, this is the only good one.”
The song appears to serve a therapeutic function: by the end of “Caroline,” Martin’s narrator is finally beginning to think about moving on. “Yes I know that we could not have lasted/ Daily life cannot be that intense/ I’ll phone my friends and try to explain/ Why this past year I have acted so insane.” Strings swell, banjos chop, and the song comes to a close with a rousing chorus of “Caroline, oh Caroline.”
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Martin also released a faux informercial promoting the album, highlighted by less-than-dead-on impressions of Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars.
Martin’s last album, So Familiar, was a collaboration with Edie Brickell that came out in 2015. Martin and Brickell won a Best American Roots Song Grammy in 2014. It’s one of several accolades Martin has picked up for his music, which also earned him Grammys in 2009 (Best Bluegrass Album) and 2001 (Best Country Instrumental Performance).
Peter Asher, the Grammy-winning producer who’s worked with James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt and Neil Diamond, produced The Long-Awaited Album. The group will appear at this year’s IBMA World of Bluegrass on September 30th for their album release celebration.