Chris Thile & Michael Daves – Sleep with One Eye Open
August 5, 2005 will for now on be written in the bluegrass annals as it marks the beginning of one of the best collaborations/duos in the history of bluegrass music. It was a date preordained by God, who could no longer allow his poor, talentless flock to go without hearing and experiencing the supernatural gifts of Chris Thile and Michael Daves. And, I for one, feel blessed. Now, after hearing their lastest effort, I have some semblance of faith and belief that God is actually a loving god because He so loved the world, he gave us Thile and Daves.
On their new release, Sleep with One Eye Open, mando extraordinaire Chris Thile and guitar ace Michael Daves team up to put a fresh twist and punk vibe on 16 traditional bluegrass standards made legendary by artists like Flatt & Scruggs, The Monroe Brothers and The Louvin Brother. Recorded live in a good ol’ fashioned bluegrass jam session over the course of four days at Jack White’s Third Man Studios in Nashville, Tenn., the duo’s chemistry bursts through each track. The combination of Thile’s frenzied precision on the mandolin and Daves’ expertly fast flat-picking makes such traditional tracks as Bill Monroe’s “Rabbit in the Log” and Charlie Monroe’s “Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms” exciting and modern. As a result, Sleep with One Eye Open evokes joy and envy in the hearts, minds, and souls of everyone listening to their phenomenal instrumentals on the likes of the flying “My Little Girl in Tennessee” and the lively title track. While the pair’s insane talents are mindblowing, their vocal meshing is equally memorable on the high-and-lonesome “You’re Running Wild” and “Rain and Snow” as well as the gorgeous traditional dirge “Bury Me Beneath the Willow.”
In my humble opinion, Sleep with One Eye Open is one of the most spectacular, spirited and inspired albums of 2011 and it’s creation as well as the birth of Thile and Daves’ musically ordained collaboration should be observed and celebrated each year on August 5.
— April D. Wolfe @ Common Folk Music