A frenetic few weeks for folk (Mini Review of WALK) from Herald Tribune
A frenetic few weeks for folk
Yonder Mountain String Band
By MARTY CLEAR Correspondent
Published: Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 10:23 a.m.
“Listen Up” is a monthly look at releases that may have fallen through the cracks but deserve a second chance.
For some reason, it has been a phenomenal few weeks for new folk releases.
Maybe it’s coincidence — maybe the recent, monumental 40th annual Newport Folk Festival spurred labels to get albums out. Here are three irresistible albums, from very traditional to not-so-much, that have been in heavy rotation at Listen Up world headquarters.
“50 Years: Where Do You Come From? Where Do You Go?” The New Lost City Ramblers — If you have any affinity at all for the music of the folk revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s, or for the singer-songwriter genre that evolved out of it, this album is a necessity. The New Lost City Ramblers were as responsible as anyone else for bringing folk music into the mainstream. The Kingston Trio hit it big with more sanitized stuff; Bob Dylan took the torch and carried it off way in another direction, but for 50 years, until co-founder Mike Seeger died a few weeks ago, the Ramblers played authentic folk music. This three-CD set chronicles their career and adds in their field recordings of their forebears, including Elizabeth Cotton and Maybelle Carter. Four hours of folkie bliss.
“The Show,” Yonder Mountain String Band — If the Ramblers had decided to stray just the tiniest bit from their mountain-music roots — just the tiniest bit — they might sound something like this. The Colorado-based Yonder Mountain String Band captures all the joy and energy of traditional folk but with a few dollops of rock-band sensibility. Banjos, mandolins and guitar, often playing at a frenetic pace, underscore more modern-sounding singing, reminiscent of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy (and unfortunately sometimes of Jerry Garcia). The uptempo numbers fare best, but the laid-back songs have an appealing sittin’-on-the-front-porch vibe to them, too.
“Walk,” Red Rooster — Traditional folk, Americana and even a scattered smidgen or two of jazz meet in Red Rooster’s latest album. One lovely song after another, gorgeous singing and a deliciously underproduced sound make this one of those albums that takes a while to get under your skin, but slowly takes hold until you joyfully surrender.
Marty Clear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story appeared in print on page E8