When you’ve got a little black book loaded with contacts you use them don’t you? And in the case of dobro maestro Jerry Douglas that’s quite some book. Paul Simon, Alison Krauss, Eric Clapton etc they’re all in there and only too pleased to lend a hand on this, his thirteenth solo album. I first became aware of Jerry’s playing in 1987 on Davy Spillane’s “Atlantic Bridge” album and was stunned by the musicality and expression on what I thought at the time was a pretty anodyne instrument. Of course, since then I’ve become an avid fan and Mr Douglas’s collaborations are without doubt some of the most stimulating I have encountered anywhere captured on numerous silver disks. From the opening blues of Huddie Ledbetter’s “On A Monday” it’s pleasing to hear his vocal talents coming to the fore. OK, so he may not be Alfie Boe or Andrea Bocelli but then again I’m sure he’s not trying to be…just happy in the knowledge that he’s able to hold a song for solo projects. If I was to choose a favourite track then I’d go for “Right On Time” where Jerry is joined by vocalist Marc Cohn showing an almost empathic restraint on lap steel guitar. This is the kind of album in which the listener feels proud in the knowledge that they know something the greater public are unaware of and in this respect I mean Jerry has enriched our lives and although not a ‘star’ in the truest sense of the word the world of country and folk music would be a poorer place without him. The accolades for this album will doubtless come thick and fast and personally speaking none more deservedly so.
Artist’s website: www.jerrydouglas.com
OK so I might, on listening to the opening strains of this album have been a bit too prepared to write Chris Stout’s Brazilian Theory project off as a technical step too far but on reflection I’ve been totally seduced by the allure of a cultural mix that was just waiting to be exploited by a member of the ‘folk’ community. If memory serves me right I heard the link of Jazz/Brazilian/Celtic some 20 years before performed by the harp player Deborah Henson-Conant but here it’s Stout’s violin that takes the lead aided and abetted by an A-Class team of musicians including amongst others Catriona McKay (harp), Thomas Rohrer (sax) and Carlinhos Antunes on guitars. For me, not everything goes according to plan particularly when the jarring octave leaps of the violin almost rip the ears off those of us with a gentle disposition but all in all this is an innovative experience that will perhaps take root after repeated plays. In a way, much like Davy Spillane & Andy Irvine’s “East Wind” and The Future Trad Collective these excursions might be taking things a tad too far for the ears of Philistines like me but we’ll just have to wait and see how it all pans out with a wider audience.
Welcome back to the girls! Mind you, on listening to the opening track ‘The Broom Of The Cowdenknowes’ I thought I was listening to The Rankin Family such is the power of the ensemble vocal performance.
The chosen path of the album seems to be heading towards a more mainstream audience with more songs than on previous outings. In their choice of Deirdre Connolly as lead vocalist, the girls have impeccably hit the mark again although she is aided and abetted by some legendary artists including the Clancy’s ‘Freeborn Man’ plus a veritable star-studded roster. Pete Seeger, Davy Spillane and Luka Bloom the list just goes on… Surrounded by such illustrious company, CTL should hopefully have found a vehicle in which to project themselves to that elusive wider audience.
I haven’t had the album off the turntable since I received it – Ten out of Ten!
Original Posting date – 12-June-2001
Reviewers Name – Pete Fyfe