Ramblin' Jack Elliott

I Stand Alone

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If you're an old fan of Ramblin' Jack Elliott, look for few surprises now that he's jumped to the label that hosts Nick Cave, Joe Henry, and Tom Waits. This is Jack Elliott the fingerpickin' folkie, friend to Cisco Houston and Woody Guthrie, and influence of Bob Dylan. These 14 songs reflect what Jack has done since leaving the rodeo more than 50 years ago. Most of the songs here are utterly familiar, including "Mr. Garfield," "Leaving Cheyenne," "Old Blue," "Willy Moore," "Careless Darlin'" (with Lucinda Williams), "Hong Kong Blues," "Drivin' Nails in My Coffin" (with David Hidalgo), and many others. In addition to the aforementioned guests, Nels Cline, Flea, Corin Tucker, and D.J. Bonebrake are here, to name a few. Elliott hasn't recorded an album in seven years, but I Stand Alone ranks among his very best efforts. His voice is richer now that it's aged; it's full of authority, wisdom, and a certain kind of madness -- the kind that one witnesses during his live shows. There are no standouts on this record, with the possible exception of its final cut, "Woody's Last Ride," which Elliott penned. With an autoharp, a lonely guitar, and some ambient sounds, Elliott tells a beautiful and spooky story about the last time he saw Guthrie. There are no regrets, no sophomoric or melodramatic words, just a winsome pleasure and brief tale that sends the entire record off into the night sky with a smile. The rest of this set is simply great. It's a fantastic introduction to Elliott for newbies, and authoritative proof that he's not only still got it, but he just keeps getting better.

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