Vincent Cross- Old Songs for Modern Folk review   Leave a comment


I love folk music. Raw, honest, impassioned: railing against the system and injustices, documenting the trials, trails and travails of the voiceless, the downtrodden—the raising of voices in harmony, joy, and celebration, marking the events tying us to each other. There is nothing like folk music.

Vincent Cross’ new album Old Songs for Modern Folk ticks all my boxes. Ancient melodies revitalized to contemporary circumstances mixing with original thoughts, comments, and approaches, all folded together into an unadorned mix of guitar and voice with banjo on a couple numbers. Beautiful.

Never heard of Vincent Cross? Me neither. We need to fix that.

Based in NYC, Cross comes to us via Australia from Ireland. No indie-rock wannabe disguising himself as a folk-singer, Cross seems to come by his folk affliction naturally. Imagine him in a corner of your living room, singing “Alone,” his original that borrows a wee bit from “Dark Hollow”/”East Virginia Blues,” you and yours imbibing in whatever bitter brew available—and you make that connection: you haven’t lived the words, but you are familiar with the conviction—your life and an empty dram have way too much in common.

That’s the power of folk music, even if it only hits you for a moment or three it impacts you, and you take a different path.

Old Songs for Modern Folk is full of those moments. “Michael Brown,” based on “Louis Collins” is a tale we know too well, one that will likely continue to play out in our cities this summer: different name, same situation. Without being obvious, “Garments of Shame” exposes the Bangladesh garment factory collapse as a product of the western world’s desire for cheap clothing. “Zora’s Blues” and “Going Down that Road” complement each other although they are very different songs: tempered by loss and perhaps missed opportunity, strength emerges.

Each listener will find their own way into this very appealing album. Maybe it will be “Ode to an Old Guitar,” one where the “deep cracks beneath the surface veneer are the wounds of the sorrows that you hear.” Perhaps, “As the Crow Flies” a set of songwriting clichés combined to create something quite endearing. Or, “The Ballad of Roosevelt Avenue” which could be a lost TVZ lyric found scribbled on the back of a takeout menu.

I love this album. You might, too. Vincent Cross, Old Songs for Modern Folk. Take a chance for a change, like you used to when browsing the record store.



Posted 2016 June 20 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

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