Photographers: Daniel Corrigan; Anna Kim Ostroushko.
There's a quiet elegance and an undeniable timelessness embedded in the ten songs that comprise When the Last Morning Glory Blooms, as if Peter Ostroushko didn't so much write them as discover them, lying around undisturbed for a hundred years, on yellowed sheet music atop a forgotten parlor piano in some dusty attic. That isn't to say that there's a deliberate retro quality to this music, but instead a pure simplicity and distinguished formality rarely found today, even in comparable acoustic music. Ostroushko avoids flourish and the ostentatious; his technique on both mandolin and fiddle is the definition of virtuosity, but that's never what it's about for him. Ostroushko's purpose in brandishing an instrument isn't to dazzle with flash and style but to communicate as directly as possible, both with his fellow players and his listeners, and he accomplishes that easily here. Regaling a 2010 audience with a waltz, for example, might seem quaint and even pretentious in lesser hands, but the five waltzes on When the Last Morning Glory Blooms find a sweet spot where long-ago yesterdays don't seem so long ago after all. On the non-waltzes, Ostroushko adjusts the mood accordingly, so the set adheres as a whole while offering just enough variety to keep things from getting samey. Ostroushko attains an intimacy on these tunes that allows them to feel comfortable and familiar on first listen, even if eight of them are newly written -- it's no surprise that some of these tunes were written for weddings; who wouldn't feel the love with this regal music playing? In perfect sync with piano accompanist Richard Dworsky and a revolving cast of others, including Norman and Nancy Blake on "The Nine Years Waltz" and fiddle legend Johnny Gimble on the album-closing "Memories of Tyler, Texas," Ostroushko displays, not for the first time and surely not for the last, why the praises never stop coming his way. ~ Jeff Tamarkin