Excellent as a modernized primer of Chinese folk songs, but perhaps a bit difficult for new listeners, this collection from singer Gong Linna covers a range of regional stylings in traditions that are quickly on their way out with the rise of urbanization and modern living in China. After Gong devoted time to music in a pseudo-traditional format, her passion for authentic folk songs was awakened, leading to intensive traveling throughout the more remote portions of China in search of the fading traditional works. This album collects much of the result from that traveling period. While most of the regions of China are touched upon during the course of the album, the focus is on the provinces of Gansu, Jiangsu, Guizhou, and Shanxi. Her vocals range from contemplative to forced patter songs, but always hold an artificially nasal quality (common to Chinese song, but perhaps played up even more with Gong's delivery). In the slower numbers, the vocal style works well to impart a sense of place and time with its traditional connotations. In the faster numbers, though, it can be overwhelming at best. Although not for the weak of heart, this album is academically worthy given its breadth.
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AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg