Tom, Brad & Alice

Holly Ding

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Holly Ding, a wonderful collection of old-time songs and instrumentals, is Tom, Brad, & Alice's second release on the Copper Creek label. Multiple-instrumentalist Tom Sauber, singer Alice Gerrard, and fiddle/banjo player Brad Leftwich have been brought together by their love of old-time, string band music. Most of these songs hark back to an earlier time, as with the lovely "The Christian's 'Good-Night'" and an energetic version of "The Cuckoo." It's especially fascinating to hear these songs if one is only familiar with a later version. Hank Williams' "Alone and Forsaken" receives a wonderful revamping, complete with stark instrumental accompaniment, perhaps rendering this dark tune even darker. Gerrard performs the self-penned "Love Was the Price," a depressing ballad filled with gloomy imagery, a cappella. This is followed by a lively version of "Sail Away Ladies," driven forward by Leftwich's energetic fiddle and held on course by the steady rhythm of Sauber's banjo. Other standouts include "Little Margaret," a song that includes a ghostly apparition, temptation, and death. The liner notes document the source of each song, reinforcing the fact that the song -- not the performer -- is the heart of authentic old-time music. Still, one cannot deny that certain performers, as with Tom, Brad, & Alice, place these songs in an exceptional light. Holly Ding is a fine release and will be warmly welcomed by fans of old-time music.

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