Ramblin' Jack Elliott

A Stranger Here

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If anybody's got a sense of history, it's Ramblin' Jack Elliott, who began his career in the 1950s, learned directly from Woody Guthrie, and influenced Bob Dylan and countless others. Confronting a possible second Great Depression in America in 2009, a 77-year-old Elliott delivers an album of blues tunes from the first one, songs he absorbed as a young man. While Elliott's agreeably worn, leathery voice inhabits songs associated with the likes of Rev. Gary Davis and Blind Willie McTell with undeniable ease, producer Joe Henry puts a twist on the proceedings. With a band that includes Van Dyke Parks, Los Lobos' David Hidalgo, and others, Henry adds just a bit of arch, modern sonic spin, providing a moody atmosphere that enhances the experience without overwhelming Elliott's performances.

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