Southern tinged folk may not be your genre of choice but the charm of Nashville based banjoist Abigail Washburn and her latest release City of Refuge can't fail to take you on a beautifully dreamy journey filled will fleeting strings, subdued piano and an all important smattering of blissful banjo.

City of Refuge is as fantastic as it is delicate, it's a melodic voyage powered by the fragility of Washburn's voice which possesses an innate forcefulness that although never fully surfaces makes its presence fully known in a truly non-intrusive fashion. Even when musically things start to liven up and it appears her vocals are lost in a sea of brass they still gently creep back into the mix so as never to be fully outweighed by the music. This enchanting voice feels tinged with a wisdom showcased through substantial lyrical expertise and its ability to be both soothing and spine tingling leaving you in a state of relaxed delight as you're guided gently through a myriad of sounds and expressions.

Washburn's real skill however is her efficiency at drawing you into a story, presenting you with various characters and situations and ensuring your interest is sustained by these characters throughout. It's a powerful mechanism and turns what could have been a somewhat monotonous journey into a captivating exploration of the world she creates.

'Burn Thru' has some particularly beautiful moments with Washburn's voice holding together a fantastic build up layered with chanting backing vocals, piercing snare drum blasts and serene strings that wistfully fade away leaving you desperate for one last glorious repetition. It's an enchanting track and one that showcases perfectly the way City of Refuge brings together a wide range of sounds that all mange to complement each other without feeling messy or overpowering.

Although the occasional anomaly sneaks its way into the release, particularly 'Divine Bell' which feels somewhat out of place with its overly deep south vibe becoming too distracting at points, there is nothing substantial enough to dampen the overall impact of the record. You'll find yourself losing track of time itself in the prolonged outro of 'Dreams of Nectar' and hanging on every intricate word of opener 'City of Refuge' as you try to unravel the various images that are thrown your way.

City of Refuge is a delight to experience, if a little too varied at times. Washburn's voice was designed for folk and is central to making this release the audio delight that it is. When mixed together with some fantastic southern accompaniment that more often than not knows when to ease off, you're left with a journey that's well worth taking even if banjos aren't your style.