ANDY & JUDY – This Road (own label)

This RoadAndy and Judy Daigle are from Bridgewater, Massachusetts. I actually missed the MA in their letterhead at first and I was expecting a duo from Somerset. D’uh! They have been a fixture in their part of New England for more than a decade, writing, performing and recording albums of which This Road is the sixth. There is a delightful homespun feel about some of what they do – it helps if you know that Fenway is the home of the Boston Red Sox – so I’m afraid that the subject of ‘They Locked The Grange Hall Doors Today’ eludes me.

Exponents of Americana have a rich variety of traditions to delve into and the opening track, ‘I Want To Sing’ is mostly gospel with elements of soul-searching confessional mixed in and at first listen I found it rather too religious. Judy sings the song as though she really means it and Andy adds deliberately off-kilter banjo and mandolin – it has to be deliberate or they would have redone it. ‘This Road’ is a romantic musician-driving-home-through-the-night saga full of optimism.

Judy wrote most of the songs here but Andy wrote ‘Walking To Our Freedom’ which I‘m pretty sure is about Harriet Tubman’s underground railroad. Again, Andy’s banjo sounds odd as though he was trying to imitate a home-made instrument made from a gourd and a piece of driftwood. The one cover is Vic Witherspoon’s ‘Cambridge Town’ and I’m unable to discover anything about either the writer or the song. It’s a great song, though. ‘Sing Me To Sleep’, another of Andy’s songs, returns to the gospel sound with a bluesy edge.

‘Grampa’ is about an old-time country musician and it may be about Judy’s grandfather or just a flight of her imagination, Whichever, it’s a fine back-porch country song and that mood continues with ‘Everyday Things’. ‘Are You Ready’ turns to the problems of social injustice and challenges to listener to respond. Finally, ‘Goodnight’ heads down the hippy trail a bit but I can see it being the perfect encore to a live show.

Between them Andy & Judy play guitars, banjo, harmonica, mandolin and percussion so they don’t need much support but John Zaia plays unobtrusive bass on all but one track. This Road won’t change the world but I’m pretty sure Andy and Judy don’t want to do that. However, as Rick Danko once said, they are there to help the neighbourhood.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

This Road is released on 1st September but is already available to order from Andy & Judy’s website.

‘I Want To Sing’ – live: