Noam Pikelny: Universal Favorite

On his fourth solo album banjo virtuoso and Punch Brother deluxe Noam Pikelny makes one key departure: he sings, which turns out to be one of this project’s pleasant surprises. Sparkling sonics highlight the technical and soulful beauty of original instrumentals such as “Waveland,” with its awesome flurry of sustained rolls conjuring the romantic image of the tide planting a kiss on the shore, and “The Great Falls,” a pastoral gambol defined by the earthy tone of the artist’s 1928 National four-string guitar. This is picking of a higher order. But the Pikelny voice must be dealt with. On Josh …