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FullReviews Index - page 4

Malcom Holcombe - Gamblin' House
Malcom Holcombe's songs are the artistic equivalent of ripping off a bandaid: they kind of sting, but you know jumping into it fully is the best way to heal.

Woody Guthrie - The Live Wire
Nora Guthrie—daughter of Woody, sister of Arlo, proprietor of the Woody Guthrie Archives and Museum—has always believed that nobody managed to record a single live performance her father gave during his unfortunately abbreviated career...

Anthology of American Folk Music
In 1952, filmmaker Harry Smith released a compilation of field recordings, country blues and folk songs from the 1920s and 30s that became an inspiration for budding folksingers and the movement that followed. The rather extensive [i]Anthology of American Folk Music[/i] presented artists like The Carter Family, Mississippi John Hurt, Charlie Poole, and Clarence Ashley, among many, many others.

Rhonda Vincent - Good Thing Going
There's no question about whether Rhonda Vincent can deliver exquisite bluegrass tunes. There are plenty of them on [i]Good Thing Going[/i], to be sure. But, sometimes a collection of good songs isn't the same thing as a good collection of good songs.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story - Soundtrack
If you love classic country music, contemporary folk, protest songs, rockabilly and corny showtune pop songs, and you need a good laugh, look no further. Built on a solid foundation of rather talented songwriters like Dan Bern and Marshall Crenshaw, this soundtrack is mostly just downright funny.

Eilen Jewell - Letters From Sinners and Strangers
From the onset, Eilen (pronounced like 'wheelin') Jewell's second CD, [i]Letters from Sinners and Strangers[/i], starts jumping. The first words she almost moans, "Well, it's a rich man's world," come in over a backdrop of rockabilly and country with a modern feel. It's impossible to miss the smooth, sultry loneliness as she sachets through every song on the album.

John Gorka - The Gypsy Life
John Gorka's [i]The Gypsy Life[/i] CD-DVD set gives fans an excellent opportunity to see the artist at work in the studio, onstage and behind the scenes.

WFUV City Folk Live X
WFUV's latest compilation of these performances is an exquisite two-disc set featuring the best performances from 2007, as well as a collection of favorites from the past decade.

Neil Young - Chrome Dreams II
Neil Young is no stranger to great songs. He’s become a machine of great songs, releasing record after record of perfectly polished, tightly wound albums that don’t waste time with mundane songs, forgettable tunes, or tunes that just hang in there. Somehow, he seems to just have that gene that not only identifies the great songs, but is able to collect them into one cohesive package that fits swimmingly together.

Joni Mitchell - Shine
Backed by an incredibly sharp group of jazz players, Joni Mitchell has returned from her decade-long musical hiatus with a superb collection of new songs, and a nice tropical island spin on an old classic, "Big Yellow Taxi."

Spook Handy - Whatcha Gonna Do?
There's a reason I chose Spook Handy as one of the best American folk singers you've never heard of, and his latest album [i]Whatcha Gonna Do?[/i] is an excellent example. Filled with wonderfully articulate protest songs and narrative tunes about family. His social commentary spares nobody, from prison guards and politicians to military mothers who vote to keep war going despite the death of their soldier sons.

Mountain Heart - Road That Never Ends: The Live Album
Mountain Heart is, without question, one of the tightest, fastest draws in the contemporary folk music scene. Their live shows are exceptionally energetic, and their fierce instrumental skills are only matched by one another. [i]Road That Never Ends[/i] is an excellent addition to their discography, and an exquisite cd of choice for anyone interested in learning about this great band.

Emmylou Harris - Songbird Box Set
The difference between a career retrospective and a greatest hits album is mostly in the intent. On [i]Songbird[/i], Harris collects four CDs-worth of material that is most integral and poignant from her entire career. This includes recordings with Gram Parsons and her more recent collaborations with Mark Knopfler, as well as favorite songs from her decades-long recording career.

Claire Lynch - Crowd Favorites
For her latest album, [i]Crowd Favorites[/i], Claire Lynch turned to her fans. They voted on which songs they would most like to see turn up on her greatest hits album. Lynch listened to the fans and turned out a collection of some of the truly great songs from the entire course of her career, starting with the Front Porch String Band, and going on through to her more recent releases.

Johnny Cash - The Great Lost Performance
Johnny Cash is unquestionably one of the best performers in contemporary music to ever hit the stage. Since his death, numerous records have been released in hopes of carrying on Cash's legacy as a great performer. So it only makes sense that a live collection should be released. [i]The Great Lost Performance[/i] is pretty much exactly what it says it is.

Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog
Iron and Wine's CD, [i]The Shepherd's Dog[/i] shows a clear departure from work he's done in the past. It's a more experimental, more sonically forward record, for better or worse.

KT Tunstall - Drastic Fantastic
KT Tunstall spent a good amount of time busking on the street for spare cash before breaking onto the mainstream music scene last year. A couple years and a Grammy nomination later, Tunstall's follow up, [i]Drastic Fantastic[/i] has been a well-anticipated release.

Various Artists - Old Town School of Folk Music Songbook, Vol. 2 & 3
Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music is one of the only places you can go to study the art and history of American folk music and dance. For 50 years, the Old Town School has operated in the heart of Chicago—a town known for its jazz, blues, theater, rock and other forms of music.

Kane, Welch, Kaplin - self-titled CD
On their third release, Kevin Welch, Kieran Kane and Fats Kaplin share more of the exquisitely sparse arrangements that have made their collaborations memorable each time. This time around, Lucas Kane joined the trio, adding his instrumental expertise to what Kaplin already does so well.

Ann Wilson - Hope and Glory
It's been a long time coming for this rock and roll vocalist. Her fans have long been looking forward to the day when Wilson would release her solo album. What's remarkable about this disc is that she chose, her first time out, to record some of the great, influential songs of the 20th century, from artists like Elton John to Led Zeppelin, Lucinda Williams and Bob Dylan.

Ani DiFranco - Canon
Ani DiFranco is probably one of the most beloved artists to never have a number one song or a platinum selling CD. Considering she's seen as a musical revolutionary, ground-breaking instrumentalist and the closest thing to "our generation's Dylan" as possible, it's notable that none of the songs on her greatest hits CD [i]Canon[/i] ever went gold.

Various Artists - Sowing the Seeds
Part tribute to Pete Seeger, part nod to Appleseed Recordings' 10th anniversary, Sowing the Seeds is an exquisite collection of classic tunes sung by folk music legends, including Seeger, Lou Reed, Ani DiFranco, Bruce Springsteen, Arlo Guthrie, Judy Collins and a slew of others.

Brandi Carlile - The Story
Brandi Carlile's latest effort—[i]The Story[/i]—aptly picks up where her self-titled debut left off. While the former is no less narrative and contemplative than the latter, this time around, Carlile and her band entrusted their songs to the vintage instruments and impeccable taste of legendary producer T Bone Burnett. The result is a remarkably memorable record that exemplifies both Carlile's musicianship and natural poetics.

Suzanne Vega - Beauty and Crime
Suzanne Vega was one of those songwriters whose work inspires other songwriters to write. Her lyrics have always woven incredible story arcs that fit perfectly with the subtle melodies inherent in the words. On her latest, [i]Beauty & Crime[/i], Vega returns with the same lovely and difficult imagery, touching on so many genres it's silly to label it. These are just great songs.

Kill Henry Sugar - Swing Back and Down
Quirk masters Kill Henry Sugar (KHS) are up to their old tricks again. A dobro and drum duo from New York City, KHS immerses their music firmly in the roots of their surroundings. Their musicianship is competent and the vocals are a pleasure to listen to.

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