Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Original Carter Family - Can the Circle Be Unbroken

The Carter Family is another seminal and highly influential musical entity and this gives a good indication of why! Along with Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family is credited with changing the style of early country/folk music from instrumental dance music to vocal music.

The group was made up of Alvin Pleasant (AP), his wife Sara (lead vocals - so deep that I thought it was AP until I read the liner notes - and autoharp or guitar) and her cousin Maybelle on guitar. Of course, the same name was used for many more incarnations of the family, which later included some of the youngsters, including Johnny Cash's eventual wife, June Carter. The songs, recorded in the 30's and 40's, contain some wonderful harmonies and with the fairly simple backing, really bring alive tunes that are now considered traditional classics. Many of the songs existed before the Carters recorded them, but AP was savvy enough to put his name on the song for publishing purposes. The repertoire included old British ballads, gospel numbers, early blues and old Americana, all given a new life with the Carter's arrangements.

I can guarantee that you will be familiar with a great many of these songs (the title cut, "Wildwood Flower", "Worried Man Blues", "Keep on the Sunny Side", and many more) and will be enchanted by these versions. If you cared anything for the sounds in movies like "O Brother, Where Art Thou", then you will love this record - this could essentially be that soundtrack and is the soundtrack for American folk music. This is definitely a new favorite of mine!