Review : RAMBLIN' JACK ELLIOTT - A STRANGER HERE
UncutAt 77, and firmly established as the link between Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, Jack Elliott could be excused a bit of laurel-resting. Instead, inspired by their collaboration on I’m Not There’s soundtrack, Elliott and producer Joe Henry have chosen to explore the pre-war country blues. Stylistically, it’s a slight departure from Elliott’s usual purview.
There’s a tussle between frailty and wisdom in the performances, with wisdom winning, mostly. The songs are well chosen (Rev Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” stands out), and the band – including Van Dyke Parks and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos – create a woozy, tumbledown feel, as if they are playing from a carnival float. Elliott is better at world-weariness than he is at sass, but has enough guile to mould the songs in his own image....full text
BlogcriticsMark April 7th on your calendars because folk legend Ramblin’ Jack Elliott is rolling into town with a new album titled A Stranger Here. Now 77 years old, he has lived with Woody Guthrie, mentored a young Bob Dylan, and performed with Phil Ochs. His career stretches back to the late 1950s and his legacy as an influential folk artist and interpreter of traditional songs is secure.
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott is a travelin’ man who collects forgotten and unique songs. He has usually stayed within the country and folk traditions, but here he travels in a different direction. He resurrects ten classic blues songs from the depression era in The United States and breathes new life into them....full text
ThephoenixThe country-blues songbook as written by Son House, Blind Willie Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, and Charley Patton seems like natural, if previously unexplored, territory for this folk legend. Add producer Joe Henry and a crack band including pianist Van Dyke Parks, Los Lobos' David Hidalgo, and Boston drummer Jay Bellerose and the results are soulful, moody, and entrancing.
Little details like Hidalgo's acoustic slide guitar on "How Long Blues" and the electric rumble he tags on "Falling Down Blues" underline the humanity etched into Elliott's well-traveled, tattered, 77-year-old voice. But Henry's too smart to be predictable, so it's piano — not the genre's emblematic six-strings — that shares the most space with Elliott's dusty-road emoting. And there's even a little vibraphone to help recast Elliott's own "Please Remember Me" as lounge fare. T...full text
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