Laysongs Chris Thile

Album info



Label: Nonesuch

Genre: Songwriter

Subgenre: Contemporary

Artist: Chris Thile

Album including Album cover

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  • 1Laysong04:50
  • 2Ecclesiastes04:14
  • 3God Is Alive Magic Is Afoot04:59
  • 4Salt (in the Wounds) of the Earth, Pt. 103:26
  • 5Salt (in the Wounds) of the Earth, Pt. 204:42
  • 6Salt (in the Wounds) of the Earth, Pt. 304:50
  • 7Sonata for Solo Violin, Sz. 117: IV. Presto04:45
  • 8Dionysus04:48
  • 9Won't You Come and Sing for Me04:07
  • Total Runtime40:41

Info for Laysongs

Mandolinist, singer, and songwriter Chris Thile’s Laysongs will be released on Nonesuch Records on June 4, 2021. The album is his first truly solo album: just Thile, his voice, and his mandolin, on new recordings of six original songs and three covers, all of which contextualize and banter with his ideas about spirituality. Recorded in a converted upstate New York church during the pandemic, Laysongs’ centerpiece is the three-part “Salt (in the Wounds) of the Earth,” which was inspired by C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. The album also features a song Thile wrote about Dionysus; a performance of the fourth movement of Béla Bartók’s Sonata for Solo Violin; “God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot” based on Buffy Sainte-Marie’s adaptation of a Leonard Cohen poem; a cover of bluegrass legend Hazel Dickens’ “Won’t You Come and Sing for Me;” and an original instrumental loosely modeled after the Prelude from J.S. Bach’s Partita for Solo Violin in E Major. Nonesuch Store pre-orders include an instant download of the album-opening track "Laysong" and a print of the album cover autographed by Thile.

Thile, who was raised in a Christian household, explains the inspiration for Laysongs, from a backstage conversation with Nonesuch’s Chairman Emeritus Bob Hurwitz, who told him, “‘You should do a God-themed record of some kind, it’s all over your work.’ It is a lifelong obsession of mine, even post-Christianity, what the impact of that kind of devotion to any organized religion is.” When the world went into COVID lockdown in the spring of 2020 and the public radio show Thile had hosted, Live from Here, ended its run, he finally had time to seriously contemplate this idea. Again, Hurwitz supplied a nudge, encouraging him to make a “snapshot” of his experience of the pandemic.

Thile’s wife, the accomplished actor Claire Coffee, served as Laysongs’ co-producer: “She has incredible taste and narrative intuition. She was able to help me weave the original and non-original material together.” During the summer of 2020, the family was temporarily living in Hudson, NY, where they found a recording studio, Future-Past, in an old church. “I went in there to look at the space and instantly felt so at home,” Thile recalls. “I loved the amount of sound around the sound. I had two sonic collaborators on this record: the tremendous engineer Jody Elff and that church.”

Thile realized—and illustrates in these songs—that his greatest spiritual sustenance comes from communion with others. “I was more than ever before craving that thing—singing with people, making music with people, but particularly that very selfless kind of music making that happens in church. At best you aren’t thinking about yourself or even about the people you’re making music with. You’re all just doing it together and it’s about something else. It’s really beautiful. And it’s maybe the only thing about organized religion that I miss.”

Chris Thile, mandolin, vocals

Chris Thile
of Punch Brothers, has changed the mandolin forever, elevating it from its origins as a relatively simple folk and bluegrass instrument to the sophistication and brilliance of the finest jazz improvisation and classical performance. For more than 15 years, Thile played in the wildly popular band Nickel Creek, with which he released three albums, sold two million records, and was awarded a Grammy in 2002. Recently, Nonesuch Records released the Grammy–nominated Sleep with One Eye Open, an impassioned collaboration/conversation between Thile and guitarist Michael Daves, in which the upstart duo acknowledges the history and tradition of bluegrass while exuberantly defying convention. Thile also recently collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma for The Goat Rodeo Sessions. As a soloist he has released four albums, as well as performing and recording extensively as a duo with double bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer and with fellow eminent mandolinist Mike Marshall. He has also collaborated with a pantheon of musical innovators from multiple genres including Bela Fleck, Dolly Parton, the Dixie Chicks, Brad Mehldau, Hilary Hahn, and Gabe Kahane. Punch Brothers released their new album, Who’s Feeling Young Now?, February 14, 2012, on Nonesuch Records. Completed over three weeks at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, the record was produced by Grammy Award winner Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Tom Waits, Modest Mouse). Thile’s previous Carnegie Hall performances include a performance with Punch Brothers in 2009 and the New York premiere of his four movement suite The Blind Leaving the Blind in 2007.

This album contains no booklet.

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