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Rather than a departure, Martin's musical career is an extension of the storytelling impulse that drove his work as a comedian, an actor, a screenwriter, a playwright, an essayist, and a novelist.

'The Long-Awaited Album,' Steve Martin's brand new project with the North Carolina Grammy-winning group the Steep Canyon Rangers, is full of stories that mix humor and melancholy, whimsy and realism, rich characters and evocative details. And lots of banjos. That instrument-so dexterously, even acrobatically picked and strummed-proves just as crucial to relating these tales as the lyrics themselves, each chord and riff revealing depths to Martin's narrators and to his musical talent.