Reviewed by Aaron Cloutier
Singer-songwriter Corby Allan cordially invites you onto the dance floor with the amiable "Better N' You," a cheerful bluegrass stomper that blends sway and hooks with the sheer virtuosic brilliance courtesy of the legendary Bela Fleck.
The rhythm section is as solid as any fan of the bluegrass genre would expect. The stand-up bass locks in so tightly with the kick drum that it nearly becomes inaudible. It recedes into the subconscious and becomes something more felt than heard. The tempo is so steady it's as if some Nashville native's heartbeat was set to music.
The sound is very dry but still warm and makes for a great base to showcase Fleck's nimble-fingered licks and Allan's supportive strumming. The acoustic guitars join with Fleck's dazzling banjo rolls in perfect musical harmony to create a constantly engaging sound without the virtuosity beating you over the head.
Allan's vocals are unassuming but instantly grab your attention. There's a warmth and friendliness to them that reminds me a lot of someone like Paul Simon, to be honest. I can almost picture him in my mind as Allan sings, "I could hold my breath till my face turned blue, but I'd never find anyone anyone anyone anyone better than you." There's a real honesty to Allan's delivery.
There's something for everyone on this tune. You can just as easily get swept up in the danceable nature of the music as you can with the stellar instrumental performances. Or you can ignore all of the above and read into the sweet and innocent storytelling depicted in Allan's lyrics. Choose your adventure with this one. It all points to a good time, regardless.
About Allan Corby
In the 1970’s, after Allan began writing and performing his original songs, Allan signed a record and publishing deal releasing two original pop/disco tracks for Polygram/Mercury in Europe and DiscoNet in the US. Allan’s talent led to performances in many clubs across NYC (The Bitter End, The Bottom Line, et al) and allowed him to be an opening act for The Doobie Brothers, ZZ Top, Rare Earth, Deep Purple, and Buddy Miles et al. Corby also appeared with Yoko Ono and Weather Report at The Town Hall in NYC. He had two free-form morning radio programs on WBAI-FM in the early 70s. This attracted the attention of a young Bela Fleck when he was 14 Documented on “ Toy Heart with Tom Powers” on a 9/16/20 podcast.
In Bela's own words: [circa 1972]“…I went to my guitar teacher, Allan Corby. Allan was a folk guitarist, and I was taking these lessons and he would teach me folk songs. But he sent me to Erik Darling [banjo teacher], who had taken Pete Seeger’s place in the Weavers…” Bela went on to win 14 Grammys.