Norman Blake will never be known as a revolutionary. His starkly honest guitar picking and gently lulling voice have sounded almost exactly the same for the 30-some years that the Rounder release Old Ties encompasses. Often performing solo, occasionally accompanied by his wife, Nancy, and any of a number of bluegrass and neo-traditional folk musicians (Tut Taylor, Charlie Collins, Doc Watson), Blake's summery, porch-swing ballads and blues are perfectly performed and humbly executed. Working with the traditional themes of old-timey folk music, Blake re-creates the earthy feel of a timeworn classic the first time a song emerges from his guitar, and his unpretentious, reverent style delivers the music in an intimate environment. The compilation sticks to his more traditional-sounding compositions and interpretations, making for a wonderful afternoon listen and the perfect introduction to Blake's uniquely faithful style. Although his musical offerings may never be seen as revolutionary, his unwillingness to change to a more contemporary mode of folk music may be a kind of revolution...if anyone wanted to argue about it. Luckily, with music this pure, no one does.
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AllMusic Review by Zac Johnson