Contemporary folk master John Stewart organized the quartet John Stewart & Darwin's Army, and the group's self-titled 1999 album became the singer/songwriter/guitarist's first band effort since leaving the Kingston Trio more than three decades earlier. Joining Stewart are his wife, vocalist Buffy Stewart, vocalist/guitarist John Hoke, and vocalist/guitarist Dave Crossland. The goal of the John Stewart & Darwin's Army album was to record great folk songs, ranging from traditional standards to modern songs, and even a few originals. Hoke sings a pleasant rendition of Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages." A rollicking version of "Darlin' Corey," popularized by the Weavers and Pete Seeger, features Stewart on banjo. Crossland's original, "Blood in the Fields," blends well with the classics. "Santy Anno/Coal Tattoo" is a driving medley, and Buffy Stewart's strong singing anchors the "Santy Anno" portion; both songs had been performed by the Kingston Trio in the past. Heavenly vocal harmonies and slow acoustic guitar lines highlight Merle Haggard's "Silver Wings." Buffy Stewart sings a beautiful a cappella version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (aka "Over the Rainbow"), popularized by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, of course. Other covers included are Joe South's "Don't It Make You Want to Go Home," Tim Hardin's "Reason to Believe" (a hit for Rod Stewart), Paul Simon's "Boy in the Bubble," "They Call the Wind Mariah" from the musical Paint Your Wagon, and Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene" (another favorite recorded by the Weavers). The liner notes feature an interview with John Stewart talking about the John Stewart & Darwin's Army project in detail.
AllMusic Review by Bret Adams