Possibly surfacing in response to the 2001 film Songcatcher, this collection of earthy and gritty Southern folk songs came to light on compact disc later that same year. The simply titled Ozark Folksongs is in a similar vein as Smithsonian/Folkways' many field recordings (Close to Home, Mountain Music of Kentucky) and Rounder's own Alan Lomax/Southern Journey compilations. These 1941-1942 recordings by Vance Randolph (one of the unsung folk song collectors of the 20th century) are just a sampling of the over 800 recordings he made in the rural American South. Unfortunately, the sound quality on these 35 tracks is below even the expected "pops and cracks" threshold of many archival recordings, but the stark honesty of the performers still shines through the hiss and click of Randolph's portable recorder. The spectacular liner notes detail each of the folksongs as well as giving a quick sketch of as many of the original performers as possible, making the package a complete archival resource, but casual folk fans may be less satisfied. Still highly recommended.
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