Chris Thile: Thanks for Listening
When Chris Thile took over the coveted gig as host of A Prairie Home Companion in 2016, he knew that replacing Garrison Keillor, the show’s creator and host since 1974, was no small task. Thile, a mandolin maestro and versatile singer, had appeared on the show often since he was in his teens, whether playing with the Punch Brothers, Nickel Creek or on his own. One way Thile vowed to reshape the program, while maintaining its essential folksy values, was to create original music for each episode. Thanks for Listening is a compendium of 10 of those newly penned songs, rerecorded in the studio and presented as something of an overview of where he is as a performer and composer these days, and doubling as an invitation to check out how he’s remodeled the place. Thile’s approach ranges from the minimalist, solo “Balboa” to the supersized, urban love-letter “Thank You, New York” to “Feedback Loop,” a commentary on our social media addiction that could pass as a lost Simon & Garfunkel classic. Throughout, of course, Thile’s virtuosic mandolin shines, but here, he’s got a greater goal than reminding us that he is peerless on the instrument—with Thanks for Listening, Thile is both extending his sincere gratitude to us for coming along on his ride and laying down tracks toward wherever this might take him.