I've not heard Washburn play, apart from her work with Uncle Earl, so her brand-new five-song EP was a chance to sample what Ann Arbor will hear when she comes to the Ark on Tuesday, October 3. "Fall on My Knees" starts with delicate, arpeggiating banjo, adds Washburn's elegant voice, and then layers in cello in a stunning, almost symphonic arrangement that plummets in an instant to one plunking little note before bursting forth anew. Who could ever tell this is an old, old song, sung by some lady on her porch? It's bracingly new. And Washburn's take on "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" was inspired by an old recording by the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. It starts somberly, and Washburn shouts and trills and holds tight onto each pure vowel as if her life depended on it before tripping into the mirror-image of religious fervor: mischief, mirth, delight.
[Review published October 2006]