Holly Near

Early Warnings

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With Holly Near's Redwood label having gone bust, putting all her early albums out of print, Appleseed culls tracks from two of her 1980s releases, Watch Out! and Sky Dances, and adds the version of Pete Seeger's "Quiet Early Morning" from its 1998 Seeger tribute, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, to construct this compilation. Near adds a sleeve note under the word "context," pointing out that most of the songs derive from the Reagan era and represent early warnings for political storms that are here today. The compilation doesn't do any favors for Watch Out!, which was a timely collection of topical songwriting set to a folk/bluegrass/acoustic new age musical palette contributed by the likes of John McCutcheon, Barbara Higbie, Michael Manring, Darol Anger, and others. But Sky Dances marked the beginning of Near's apparent writing block, and excerpting her own compositions from an album largely made up of cover tunes, while dropping some of the lesser tracks from Watch Out! makes for a stronger collection than either album separately. Near fans, of course, will want the original albums, but they're hard to find, and this is a reasonable selection from them.

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