Christian Sedelmyer’s new album opens with the sprightly tune “Table Mountain,” with his violin circling nimbly around Andrew Marlin’s mandolin. The tune opens slowly in two leisurely measures before blossoming into a lively reel that allows every instrument to dance around the tune’s musical theme. It’s the perfect opening tune, a preview of how every tune on the album will unfold spaciously, letting each song take on its own life in its own time. Sedelmyer — a frequent sideman and session player for some of roots music’s biggest names and veteran of the Jerry Douglas Band, 10 String Symphony with Rachel Baiman, and The Farewell Drifters — is joined on the album by musical confidantes Marlin, who also plays guitar on “Pushin’ Through”; guitarist Eli West, who trades his six-string for clawhammer banjo on “Pushin’ Through”; and upright bassist Clint Mullican. Jerry Douglas joins them on dobro on “Deacon’s Waltz.”
“Pushin’ Through” opens with a few sparse notes from Sedelmyer before blooming into a Celtic tune with Sedelmyer’s crystalline fiddle runs spiraling into an ethereal atmosphere. The opening of the tune evokes the struggles of pushing through difficulties, but the middle breaks brightly into an open space that is celebratory, mimicking the overcoming of such struggles. The scampering Gypsy rambler “Brain Scan” captures the frenetic activity of a someone with an overloaded mind and the anxious rush to address it all. The achingly gorgeous “Deacon’s Waltz” acts as a centerpiece of the album; its somber and elegant tone encourages us to slow down and reflect on our fears and hopes. There’s also an element of loss and sadness in the tune that resolves in the final shimmering notes of the tune.
“Warm Reception” skitters along with unexpected chord changes that keep us on our toes, while “Yes Man” rustles by with the sprightly rhythms of a good old-fashioned front porch bluegrass ramble. The haunting title track closes the album with a melancholy and poignant feel.
In Sedelmyer’s palace there are many colorful, expansive, and inviting rooms, each offering a chance to enter and let the music wash over us. Ravine Palace dazzles with the tune-writing genius of Sedelmyer and the vibrant suppleness of his band of musical compadres.