Maria Muldaur's ripe, sexy vocals have been delighting audiences ever since she started singing in Greenwich Village coffeehouses. As you may or may not know, her first recordings were made for Elektra Records in 1964 as part of the Even Dozen Jug Band, a group that included future icons John Sebastian (Lovin' Spoonful) and progressive bluegrass pioneer David Grisman, creator of Dawg Music. Muldaur revisits the music of her youth here with the help of Sebastian, Grisman, Dan Hicks, and a youthful jug band she recently discovered, the Crow Quill Night Owls, featuring Kit Stovepipe on National guitar, jug, and washboard. "Garden of Joy," a classic Muldaur cut with Jim Kweskin, was the title tune of one of his early solo albums. It features a terrific fiddle solo by Suzy Thompson, and Muldaur's vocals still hit all the high notes, although her low end is now richer and more soulful than in her youth. "I Ain't Gonna Marry," another ragtime slow blues from Kweskin's "Garden of Joy," features Muldaur's exuberant singing and high-spirited work from the ensemble. Hicks contributes two new compositions, still heavily swinging and ironic: "The Diplomat" is a jaundiced look at modern life full of his skewed humor and set to a ragtime rhythm with Grisman's mandolin shooting off sparks and "Let It Simmer" is a sultry, laid back prescription for dealing with life's difficulties. The traditional jug band numbers, all arranged by Muldaur, are full of high spirits and ragtime vigor, especially the raucous "Shout You Cats" and the lascivious "He Calls That Religion." She nods to 2009 with two more timely traditional tunes "Bank Failure Blues," a dark, depressing dirge that sounds like it could have been written yesterday and "The Panic Is On," which takes a slightly lighter look at hard times. Needless to say, after a lifetime of music making, this project sounds more focused than the recordings of the Even Dozen Jug Band, but Muldaur and her pals still bring plenty of funky energy to the table.
AllMusic Review by AllMusic