The Honey Dewdrops- These Old Roots review   Leave a comment

Welcome back to Fervor Coulee. In today’s Roots Music column in the Red Deer Advocate I feature the relatively new album from The Honey Dewdrops, These Old Roots.  As was their previous release, it is a darn good listen- sure to become a favourite.

Roots music column, originally published January 21, 2011 in the Red Deer Advocate

The Honey Dewdrops These Old Roots

In the absence of new Gillian Welch recordings, this Virginia-based duo is becoming a favourite.

On their previous album If the Sun Will Shine, Kagey Parrish and Laura Wortman established an ideal balance of slo-fi folk and bluegrass, creating one of 2009’s finest acoustiblue releases.

Still sounding fresh and bright, The Honey Dewdrops have similarly captured magic with These Old Roots. The acclaim is increasingly universal; according to folk radio airplay, this charming couple received more spins last year than the likes of John Prine, Crooked Still, and even Johnny Cash.

Wortman’s voice has musical purity and in Parrish she has a pleasing harmony and instrumental foil. Similar to Welch in almost all ways excepting that Wortman tends to sing with a bit more zip, this ten-song collection breezes by in a flash.

With a wandering eye Wortman sings, “So goodbye and farewell, I’m going away, there are words my tongue can’t say,” and in the best of folk traditions also sings the spurned lover’s response, “If your mind don’t sway, your life I’ll take right here.” Their fate is left open-ended, but one expects things didn’t work out as initially planned. Similar in theme, Waiting on You allows she who betrayed to exit with her dignity- and soul- intact.

Not to be missed are Parrish’s guitar and mandolin performances. He achieves a nice tone from his instruments, and his flat-picked breaks are truly impressive without detracting from the vocals. Examples are aplenty with his playing on Goodbye and Farewell and Way Back When standing out. It is on this latter song that Gillian Welch-Dave Rawlings comparisons are most apt.

The lyrical lament Amaranth, an animistic ode to a plant whose blossoms never fade, sets the tone for These Old Roots. Nobody in this World follows a blues structure while their rendition of Can’t Get a Letter from Home brings us back to the mountain folk tradition.

Music with roots in Appalachia frequently contains religious themes and imagery, and That Good Old Way and Sweet Heaven are stellar.

Traditional music sometimes feels like it was made for another time. Instead, These Old Roots simply sounds timeless.

Thanks, as always, for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald


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