Here's a most excellent CD with some most excellent downloads for you to enjoy.
You can't resist Mary Black, John Stewart, Joan Baez, Catie Curtis, and Cliff Eberhardt. Click on the cut for more. You won't be sorry.
Best of Folk Music: Contemporary Folk Rating=$$$$
[Support the Artists; Putumayo World Music]
How I Got This CD: Paid full price for it at an indy record/book store when I lived in New Hampshire.
Narrowing down the MP3 sample tracks from this CD was just impossible. What makes it doubly tempting to upload the whole thing is that this CD is long out of print (I checked). However, many of the artists included on this collection are still working musicians, so it's possible to invest in each one individually if you're so inclined. Say what you will about the crunchy-ness that is Putumayo, one thing they excell at is putting together striking compilations that give the listener a flava of the theme without overwhelming them to the point of being terrifying. This doesn't just hold true on the company's world music offerings, but also on the folk/Celtic collections.
Like all good compilation albums, the artists on the Best of Folk Music range from the big pop names (Indigo Girls); big names in Celtic music (Mary Black; Dougie Maclean); and big names among folk fans (Catie Curtis; Christine Lavin; John Stewart; John Gorka; Cliff Eberhardt). Most of songs included are also "signature songs" for these artists (or at least they were the signature songs when this CD was initially released in 1993).
The MP3s chosen for downloads today include one from the marvelous Irish singer Mary Black with a cajun-flavored 'Past the Point of Rescue' from her album No Frontiers, which, ironically was part of Black's attempt to move out of what we used to jokingly call the Celtic Music ghetto during my Bordersverese Daze.
The second MP3, 'Irresistable Targets' off John Stewart's 1984 album Trancas, is a classic case of audio disconnect. Listen to the tune and the music and you think the song is about one thing. Listen to the words and you realize that the subject matter is much darker than you realize. Give me a song like this, and I'm so there.
No folk collection is complete without Joan Baez. This one includes 'Play Me Backwards' from the 1992 CD of the same name. There's darkness in them-thar words and Baez's normally sweet voice manages to actually growl in such a way that it gives you shivers.
The next MP3 is a one-of-a-kind get. Bostonian Catie Curtis is another "must have" for any folk music collection. Her contribution to this one is the blues-flavored 'Mine Fields (from Years to Hours)' and it's exclusive to this CD alone. You won't be finding this song on any Curtis or folk compilation CD.
I should note that I've been listening to both of these tracks from Baez and Curtis a lot lately while writing. It's official. I'm pretty warped for using pacifist Joan Baez and sweet-voiced Catie Curtis to inspire dark fic. I'm a sad little girl.
'My Father's Shoes' come from Cliff Eberhardt's 1990 debut album The Long Road (which I bought after I saw him perform in a small club in New Hampshire). The studio version of the song is slightly over-orchestrated to my taste, although it's funny that his live performance of this same song was so powerful when I saw him that even to this day I can still hear it overlaid on the MP3 I've included here. So much so, that 'My Father's Shoes' was the unofficial theme song for Whisper when I wrote it waaaaay back when.
Sample Song Download: Past the Point of Rescue — Mary Black, Irristible Targets — John Stewart, Play Me Backwards — Joan Baez, Mine Fields (from Years to Hours) — Catie Curtis, My Father's Shoes — Cliff Eberhardt
You can download all files from the project page by clicking here.
To find previous thumbnail reviews, go to the Review Index.
None = Avoid at all cost. Worth cutting your ears off to avoid if someone threatens to play it for you. When faced with even the threat of its cellophane-wrapped presence, your best option is to RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!
$= If you stumble across it for cheap in a used bin, it might, maybe, perhaps could be worth the buy, but only if you need a cheap coaster for your cold drinks or a cool-looking frisbee.
$$= You might want to give this CD/artist a try, but only if the sample track tickles your fancy. Don't bother buying this one new because the good tunes you'd get out of this one ain't worth that kind of money.
$$$ = Worth looking for on a casual basis and maybe even buying new, but no big rush.
$$$$ = Definitely worth having in the ol' CD collection and definitely worth buying new, but don't re-arrange your personal "must have" list to get your hands on it.
$$$$$ = Why haven't you bought this CD yet? Go. This is a "Want. Take. Have." situation because you so want this.