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Chris Thile
[ not all who wander are lost ]

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NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST (2000)
Not All Who Wander Are Lost - Click to view! Lots of people "play music." They stick to three chord tunes, and while they find a willing and large audience for their music, none would call it magic. I bet I could count on one hand the number of actual musicians in active duty these days. Near the top of the list I would have to save a spot for Chris Thile. You've heard some of his work as one-third of the famed "newgrass" band Nickel Creek. He has mastered a number of various instruments (including banjo, bazouki, and his favorite mandolin), but rather than play them, he PLAYS them. Let's make up a new phrase: instrumental integrity. Thile's got it.

While Nickel Creek continues to be Chris's main creative outlet, back in 2000 he took some time to record some if his original creations with some of his favorite fellow musicians. He titled the album Not All Who Wander Are Lost, after a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien. Completely devoid of vocals, this album is pure Heaven—Quality instrumentation at the hands of a creative artist.

"Song for a Young Queen" opens the album, and the notes fairly dance out of the speakers. Of this song Chris writes, "I wanted it to seem like we can always keep going and be happy doing so, knowing all the time that we probably won't find our destination, if we ever had one." Sidestep this somber sentiment and this song is rather sprightly. "Wolfcreek Pass" follows, and a hefty banjo makes this track the most "bluegrass-y" cut of the whole album. The plethora of profuse picking on mandolin, banjo, guitar and bass makes you itch to see this song played live. "Riddles in the Dark" is a lovely, almost chaotic duo co-written by the talented Bela Fleck who shows off his banjo skills throughout this recording. "Sinai to Canaan" is a two-part tune. The first is soft and slow, mournful, almost as if it was written on a sad day. Part Two is much more upbeat- A powerful Celtic based song that is almost the polar opposite to Part One's gloominess. "Club G.R.O.S.S." is a jazzy saxophone song named after the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes." You can almost see the happy pair grooving in their sunglasses after a successful mission to Get Rid Of Slimy girlS.

All of the songs on this album are so wonderfully captivating. They start off in one direction and end up taking you somewhere completely different. Grab yourself a copy of Chris Thile's Not All Who Wander Are Lost. It's beautiful, it's fun, and it's indisputably great stuff. Call it magic.
- Melissa Miles
January 2003
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