Cry, Cry, Cry

Cry, Cry, Cry

Cry, Cry, Cry

Razor & Tie

Long before Steve Earle penned the political commentary “Come Back Woody Guthrie,” Woody’s spirit ember was already brightly aglow in the hearth of the contemporary music scene. The regional flavor that was often absent from a lot of the music in the late ’70s and ’80s is back in a large way in most all segments of American music. Alt-Country, Americana, Folk, Bluegrass, whatever you wanna tag it, it’s all basically folk music, and the songs coming out of it are as good as they’ve ever been. We are in the midst of a new golden age in the arts as a whole. What would’ve once been shared only within a relatively small circle of friends in a living room or on a front porch, can now be spread across the continient and the world, due mainly to today’s cheaper technology. Of course there is a lot of crap out there, but there is also a huge amount of really worthy material to be discovered. Dar Williams, Lucy Kaplansky, and Richard Shindell gathered many of their favorite finds in assembling this recording.

The songs are the focus here. It’s a win-win situation and a labor of love for three artists, who have each already established very solid standings in the folk community in their own right. Just as Joan Baez chose three Shindell compositions and two of Williams’ for inclusion in her recent Gone From Danger release, these comtemporary folk songs were chosen for this collaberation to give a nod to other well respected songsmiths. These are all writers whose art they experienced during their travels across the Blue Highways of America. Some, like R.E.M.’s “Fall on Me,” they simply heard on the radio. Others were culled from numerous treasures found in performances at small venues, and from other aquantainces these artists made on their way up.

About half of these writers are little-knowns and part-timers who might not otherwise be getting national exposure. All of these apparently are “I Wish I’d Wrote That” songs to these folk. Inclusions range from Michael Stipe’s well-known opener, through Robert Earl Keen’s story of the Oklahoma Bombing, “Shades of Gray,” Julie Miller’s redemptive “By Way of Sorrow,” Ron Sexsmith’s ode to innocence “Speaking With The Angel,”

Nerissa Nield’s tale of lost innocence, “I Know What Kind of Love This Is,” and James Keelaghan’s sad tale of death by fire, “Cold Missouri Waters.” Shindell’s “The Ballad of Mary Magdalene” (the only self-penned song in the group) closes the set. A very strong collection of songs.

These are only 12 tunes out of a reported 25 that they agreed on. I’m hoping for a Cry,Cry,Cry II. They are touring, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll do some of the others in their live set. Razor & Tie Music, P.O. Box 585, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10276; http://www.razorandtie.com

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