Neither Norman Blake nor Peter Ostroushko is well-known to the general public, but both are towering giants of American music, and this duet album plays to the strengths of both -- the exquisite taste, brilliant playing, and choice of material that plays to their combined strengths. Meeting on Southern Soil really is a tour below the Mason-Dixon line. And so they offer their take on the venerable ballad "Oh, Death," the sentimental "I Cannot Call Her Mother," and many other traditional songs and instrumental pieces, as well as originals that fit both the tone and the spirit, including the wonderful "President Richard Milhous Nixon's Hornpipe," which actually brings in the only other performer on the disc, Nancy Blake, on cello. The pair draws from many sources for their older material -- 78s, books, even the oral tradition -- keeping alive a style that's existed for many years, but in a refined way, thanks to the quality of performance. Albums like this renew the roots of American music, bringing new blood (tunes and songs) into what is really a flowing river of history. To hear these two together is a sheer joy and a triumph of musical skill and love.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson