ALBUM REVIEW: Jon Stickley Trio Takes Prolific Instrumental Compositions To Next Level On ‘Meantime’s Up’

It’s rare for a band to transcend description, but the Jon Stickley Trio gives the written word a run for its money.

With several acclaimed albums under their belt and years of tours and festivals, you may have already heard tales of Stickley’s powerful flatpicking panache, and his equally stellar bandmates. Joining him are Lyndsay Pruett on the fiddle and Hunter Deacon on the drums, bringing a sultry and expansive blend of bluegrass, Gypsy jazz, and folk-punk. 

The prolific trio’s latest release, Meantime’s Up – which dropped April 28th via Organic Records – knits together a cinematic narrative over the course of 15 tracks. 

When asked if ordering 15 tracks of this nature was a challenge, Stickley told us, “Yes I consider it a challenge, but I really enjoy it too. I think the song order is very important, because you want it to take the listener on a journey that flows naturally. I also considered which songs were previously released as singles. I put most of them toward the end, with the new, unreleased stuff toward the beginning.”

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If you’re wondering how exactly an instrumental band can bridge the gap between Green Day and Duran Duran, look no further than the first track, “Riders of the Night Sky.” The flatpicking extraordinaire strikes again alongside Pruett’s lascivious violin, ultimately swelling into an epic adventure backed by Deacon’s expertly intentional drums. 

“Riders of the Night Sky”

The album explores the ins and outs of each member’s creativity, with individual interludes like Pruett’s “Death By Rainbow” and robust collaborations like “Triumph in Between” and “Golden Eagle.” 

“Causeway Pt. 1” shines a light on Deacon’s ear for texture and tonality as he isolates each drum, introducing their signature sounds before joining them in groovy matrimony. This track offers a moment of rhythmic respite amidst the emotional intensity before blending seamlessly back into the full-bodied fabric of the album.

Stickley returns to his true blue grassy roots in “Preston’s Tune,” showcasing just what a man can do when left with a Martin and a pick. That said, Stickley’s true skill lies in his ability to bounce off his bandmates’ improvisation as they explore the boundaries of bluegrass and beyond. 

“Morning Candy” brings forth a titillating sense of Spring, calling forward images of morning dew drops dripping from the leaves. This brief interlude carries us into “Future Ghost,” one of several previously released singles that still manages to blend cohesively into this new exploration of sound and mood. 

“Preston’s Tune”

The album closes with “Causeway Pt. 2,” a sonic finale that once again highlights Deacon’s percussive expertise. In just under an hour, Meantime’s Up brings listeners a musical journey that captures the ears, feet, and heart in their latest tapestry of sound. 

Regarding the creation of the album, Stickley told us, “The most rewarding part of making Meantime’s Up was giving my bandmates a chance to really stretch out and show off their incredible skills. The album features solo tracks by Lyndsay and Hunter that are really my favorite part of the record.”

When asked if it’s a challenge to know when a composition like theirs is finished, he told us, “I would tinker forever if I had the time and money. The cool part is, we rarely stick to the recorded version, and let the songs change and develop in a way that suits the live setting.”

The Jon Stickley Trio has a string of spring tour dates, including runs out west in Idaho and Oregon, as well as notable festivals like Suwannee Roots Reunion and Earl Scruggs Music Festival.

You can find the Jon Stickley Trio’s newest album, Meantime’s Up, out now on all streaming platforms.

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