Broken Compass Bluegrass:  Fool’s Gold

Apr 29, 2023 | Brenda and the Reviews

Song List: Fool’s Gold, Ghost, Never Really Gone, Take a Look Around, Lost Year, refugee of Truth, End of the World, You Could Never Understand, The Poet, Walk Beside Me.

Nickel Creek and Molly Tuttle are two of the most successful California-based musicians that started their careers as children growing up with bluegrass.  You can now add Broken Compass to this select group that combines their musical skills to play and record their own music and do their own booking and promotion.  DjangoRuckrich played with his family band and began writing his own songs and playing guitar and mandolin.  Mei Lin Heirendt discovered the violin as a child and after learning with the Suzuki method, she played bluegrass in the CBA Kids on Bluegrass, became the CBA Youth Ambassador and Social Media Coordinator and performed at the IBMA Awards show as part of their Kids On Bluegrass showcase.  Kyle Ledson also found musical inspiration at the CBA Kids on Bluegrass program and continued learning guitar and mandolin while performing and songwriting with bands in the Northern California area.  Sam Jacobs is the group’s bassist and his audio engineering skills helped produce this album.

Kyle, Django, and Mei Lin each wrote three songs for the set, and while the songs have different viewpoints, the band adapts their instrumentation for each song and gives a freeflowing backdrop for the vocals and lyrics.  Contemporary songs have more impressionistic appeal with the singer analyzing feelings in a rapid sequence of images unlike the beginning-middle-end of story style of earlier songs.  Django’s “Refugee of Truth” features stark images of a life where “I was 13 for 6 years,” and “there’s flaming signs lit up in twilight steaks of hate.”  His “Never Really Gone” has a haunting refrain: “I’m going but I’m never really gone, trying to find something I had all along.”  Kyle’s “End of the World” has a Twilight Zone irony with “the sun is rising, but I can’t see it, behind the smoke like a blanket in the sky.”  The song has a minor rhythm beat like the traditional “the Cuckoo” and a encompassing fiddle passage with John Mailander.  Mei Lin’s songs are more focused on relationships, though her “Ghost on That Train” claims a relationship that disappoints and is a nebulous ghostly reminder: “that train it never really stopped, it’s like you refused to get off.”  Her “You Could Never Understand” has the singer addressing the loss of childhood and the harsh realities of a drug habit and jail.  There’s a lot of depth in this band, and with its lyric imagery and enveloping instrumentation, there’s a lot of future to be anticipated!

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