Sing Out! Magazine CD Review

2010.05.26

A great review of my last CD with Casey Joe Abair, If You Want to Go to Sleep, Go to Bed, just out in the new issue of Sing Out! Magazine:

The title of this wonderful 17-song collection of traditional tunes comes from long-gone Round Peak banjoist Charlie Lowe, who preferred up-tempo songs. The album is aptly titled, a delight to listen to and explore. “Explore” because nearly all the songs, though familiar (“Devil’s Dream,” “The Coo Coo,” “Ducks on the Millpond,” etc.), are based on versions that are a bit more obscure. These small differences add a great deal of interest to the recording. For instance, “Bonaparte’s Retreat” is based on Bill Stepp’s version, rather than the more well-known melody.

The liner notes state that the album was recorded “direct to stereo, over the course of a few months in our homes, not always under the most sanitary of sound conditions, the sirens on ‘Sugar Baby’ for example” – there’s definitely an old-time aesthetic to the recording. These guys are well versed in the repertoire, but even more important, they deliver it with fresh abandon. They don’t sound like they’re scared to make a mistake, which is an even greater homage to the old songs.

Hunter Robertson previously released a solo CD, Sings Songs for the Masses, to good reviews, and this is Casey Joe Abair’s first recording. A word might be said about Robertson’s vocals, which tend toward the gravelly side. I like his voice, but it’s a tone more on the bluesy side of old-time. Still, we don’t all have to sound alike, and his style is unaffected. A highlight is “Hog Eyed Man,” with amazing lyrics that come from the dark underbelly of old-time.

Terrific packaging and liner notes, with brief historical sources on each song and banjo tunings. A highly engaging selection, well played. — CS for Sing Out! Magazine

More on the album, including sound files, here: www.hunterrobertson.com/ifyouframe.html

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