The largely overlooked Ballads From Deep Gap features a great song list and some of Doc & Merle Watson's best early playing. This is a jaunty, exciting record, highlighted by "The Cuckoo," Doc's take on a version made famous by neighbor Clarence Ashley. There's nothing routine about anything here, though: "Stack-O-Lee" (featuring Merle on lead guitar), "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms," and "Travelin' Man" are imbued with warm, rolling energy that is as invigorating as anything the pair recorded. In the end, Ballads, ironically, plays like a dance -- it's fast, fun, and slightly reckless compared to some of Doc Watson's other albums of the time. That atmosphere, though, makes it an inspired effort.
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AllMusic Review by Jim Smith