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Smithsonian Folkways American Roots Collection

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

This assemblage of blues, bluegrass, mountain ballads, topical songs, and jazz shows the wide range of American vernacular music, and Smithsonian Folkways' commitment to it. Among the many highlights here are Clarence Ashley and Doc Watson's ragged and yet sleek version of "The Coo Coo Bird," Doug Wallin's creaky and breathless a cappella version of "Pretty Saro," Lucinda Williams' Cajun two-step, "Lafayette," and a compelling take by Elizabeth Cotten of her signature song, "Freight Train." The New Lost City Ramblers bring their urban string band chops to a kinetic revitalization of "Old Joe Bone," while Michelle Lanchester (with Sweet Honey in the Rock) turns "I Was Standing By the Bedside of a Neighbor (If You See My Savior)" into a kind of gospel doo wop. Hearing the jazz piano of Mary Lou Williams on "Virgo" and "Syl-O-Gism" is another high point here. This fine disc works as a sampler for Smithsonian Folkways, but it also works as an enjoyably cohesive sequence on its own.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:56
2 2:58
3 2:02
4 2:13
5 3:45
6
3:04
7
3:04
8 2:22
9 2:35
10 2:32
11 2:46
12
2:00
13 2:24
14 2:21
15 2:19
16 3:49
17 2:10
18 2:18
19 2:52
20 2:34
21 4:31
22
2:15
23 3:22
24 2:29
25 3:31
26 2:42
blue highlight denotes track pick