Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ramblin' Jack Elliott - A Stranger Here

While I have known of Ramblin' Jack Elliott for decades, and known of his relationships to other folk heroes
such as Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, I don't know that I have really ever experienced his music before. This recording was done when Jack was 77, in 2008, although he still sounds strong and positively emotional here.

This is a collection of old country-blues covers that work well with Elliott's voice and guitar playing - which is augmented by a number of other musicians playing mostly acoustic instruments and adding to the songs rather than detracting. The style is often reminiscent of early Tom Waits, which is never a bad thing in my book!

The songs include Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Rising High Water Blues", Rev. Gary Davis' "Death Don't Have No Mercy", Lonnie Johnson's "Rambler's Blues", Blind Willie Johnson's "Soul of a Man", Mississippi John Hurt's "Richland Woman Blues", Son House's "Grinnin' in Your Face", Tampa Red's "New Stranger Blues", Furry Lewis' "Falling Down Blues" Leroy Carr's "How Long Blues" and Walter Davis' "Please Remember Me". His versions are respectful and tasteful and overall, this is a well-thought-out recording. Nice production, good material and great performances. Hopefully, he will continue to impress for many years to come.