James King

Thirty Years of Farming

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Again joined by the James King Band, with Owen Saunders now featured prominently, the masterly song interpreter delivers standard, high quality bluegrass music. Rounder bills King as a mountain soul singer, touting his adept blending of honky tonk with his inherent knowledge of hardcore bluegrass tradition, which has been honed by his stringent performance schedule, particularly at festivals. The band provides traditional harmonies and classic, polished string acrobatics (check out the instrumental "Whoopin' It"). Thirty Years of Farming opens with the title track, which was written by alt-country troubador Fred Eaglesmith, and recounts a family's loss of their farm due to bank foreclosure. Describing the subsequent auctioning of its equipment and possessions and the last look they take at their former home before driving off, probably to more urban frontiers, is kept from sentimentality by the timeless nature of its subject matter. The album also features songs by Tom T. and Dixie Hall and George Jones, and closes with a song King says he learned from Hazel Dickens, the lilting, mid-tempo, Charlie Maguire-penned "Play Us a Waltz."

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