Dirk Powell

Hand Me Down

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Solo albums are often an exercise in ego. Often, without a band to limit an artist's excesses, solo records promise more than they ever deliver. Welcome then, to the exception. Dirk Powell, the 30-something leader of Balfa Toujours, has cut a record of American folk song that can comfortably sit on the shelf with anything Harry Smith ever heard. He does this by remaining admirably in the background. The wounded voice of Jim Miller graces most tunes, leaving Powell free to express his astonishing range and virtuosity on a number of instruments. Most of the songs on this record are over 100 years old. Those that aren't sound like they are. Powell knows that American music is a river. On this album, he's content to wade waist-deep in the Big Muddy. A brilliant decision. An astonishing record, one that rewards repeated listening. This is heartily recommended to anyone with ears to hear.

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