Echo in the Valley is the follow-up to Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn's acclaimed, self-titled debut that earned the 2016 Grammy for Best Folk Album.
This time around, the mission was to take their double banjo combination of three-finger and clawhammer styles "to the next level and find things to do together that we had not done before," says Béla. They kept a few strict rules for the recording: all sounds must be created by the two of them, the only instruments used are banjos, and they must be able to perform every recorded song live.
Co-written by Fleck and Washburn with wild re-imaginings of traditional Appalachian music and original tunes, Echo in the Valley is a reflection of the times, from the emphatic mantra "Don't Let It Bring You Down" to "Come All You Coal Miners," written from the point of view of coal miner advocate Sarah Ogan Gunning. The duo's front-porch, minimalist aesthetic includes seven banjos between them, from Béla's 1937 Gibson Mastertone to a banjo ukulele and a massive, restored 1905 upright banjo bass.