Joel Harrison

Free Country

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Guitarist Joel Harrison recorded a dozen songs associated with country music, some of them quite traditional, but he recast them in surprising ways, making the CD title of Free Country fit quite well. Sometimes his steel guitar pays respect to the melodies and at other times he freaks out a bit on his electric guitar. None of the vocalists are that outstanding, and an instrumental "This Land Is Your Land" receives a surprisingly downbeat rendition. Norah Jones sings "I Walk The Line" and "Tennessee Waltz" quite straight, revealing that she is as comfortable in country music as jazz. Dave Binney's alto playing is a major asset on some of the more adventurous interpretations, and violinist Rob Thomas, pianist Uri Caine, and Tony Cedras on accordion add to the changing atmospheres of this strange but consistently colorful set.

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