Since his banjo-wielding stints on Saturday Night Live in the ’70s, music has played a central role in the career of actor and comedian Steve Martin. The 72-year-old’s music career has blossomed in the new millennium: His 2002 collaboration with Earl Scruggs won a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance and his 2009 solo debut, The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo, won a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album.
Now, Martin has returned with his second collaborative album with North Carolina bluegrass outfit the Steep Canyon Rangers. The Long-Awaited Album, which EW is excited to premiere below, follows their first rendezvous, 2011’s Grammy-nominated Rare Bird Alert, and flashes both Martin’s comedic chops and the instrumental acumen he and his collaborators share. “I’m so excited that it’s available on CD, streaming, and, a first, implant,” Martin says of the record, joking.
Tracks like lead single “Caroline” are boisterously funny: “Can you tell me why you left me standing in the parking structure?” Martin sings to a lover. “Caroline, I was the almost perfect boyfriend ever for you / And you even said that to me one time at the Olive Garden.”
But more significantly, the album impresses with its musical flair. (The Steep Canyon Rangers won the Best Bluegrass Album Grammy for a record of their own in 2012.) The most riveting parts of The Long-Awaited Album might actually be the instrumental ones; tunes without vocals like “Angeline the Barista” whirr along like rootsy, well-oiled machines.[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/336888173?secret_token=s-jLQq0" params="visual=true&color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]
Hear The Long-Awaited Album, out everywhere this Friday, above.