Katy bar the door and baton down the hatches folks because Lone Wolf, the Italian, trilingual, pizza spinning, gator wrestling, globe trotting, banjo plucking, banjo building, wild-assed Floridian from up North via Costa Rica has a new album headed your way. Warn the neighbors downstairs, cause it’s about to get loud and feet will be stomping!
At this mature stage in the evolution of American music, it is extremely rare to hear something with a wholly unique approach. And to have that approach come from just one man and a very traditional, primitive instrument makes it even more exceptional. The combination of tempo and original technique derived from the clawhammer banjo style swirl for the most dizzying, disarming music experience imaginable when Lone Wolf is cued.
In some respects, it will be impossible for Lone Wolf to ever top his first album, because with music this visceral and this original, you can never go back to that initial virgin experience of the first listen. This presented a challenge. After the euphoria subsides from the abandon that Lone Wolf’s music evokes in the human conscious, growth and maturity must must continue to keep you locked in, and that is exactly what you find with A Walk In My Pause.
Working within the very limited confines of what one man can can make his fingers, feet, and pie hole do all at once, Lone Wolf opened up some new sounds and new modes to keep his music alive and engaging. The song “Bored” features Bruno using a slide on the banjo strings. “Lost Love” shows that he can play slow songs too, and the track has very gypsy caravan feel. When you get to “The Storm of ’92” about Hurricane Andrew, Lone Wolf is just flat showing off that he’s got more banjo tricks than an elevator full of Steve Martins.
The more accessible work from Lone Wolf still may be his first album, because this one necessitated such a maturing to stay relevant, but I wouldn’t recommend you get one or the other, I would recommend you get both. My one beef is that on some of the slow songs, there’s timing issues. It seems every “one man band” has timing issues, even the big name of Scott H. Biram. But these songs are just too good to not get the timing right.
As a builder of world famous Gold Tone banjos, Bruno must have a unique insight into how to pull the magic out of these messes of wood and strings. It’s not banjo playing, it’s banjo communion. No, Lone Wolf is not one of those artists we can listen to and then shake our fists at country radio for not giving a shot, he’s likely too fey, too good for mass consumption or appeal.
However it’s artists like this, that while sitting on their back porch any given afternoon may break new ground, forge new discoveries, push the banjo envelope to new heights. Like the Starship Enterprise, going where no banjo has gone before, motivating and inspiring other banjo players to push themselves as well, and at the same time creating a body of work that exposes techniques and riffs others can borrow from.
Lone Wolf and A Walk In My Pause is like an alchemist’s journal into the depths of the banjo craft that we all get to peer into and be awed by the mastery.
1 3/4 of 2 guns up.
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Note: The song in this video talks about making a video in it, and then the video is a video about making a video. I told you this is Starship Enterprise type stuff.