Songbook is an early-'70s reissue of ten cuts taken from the first two volumes of Burl Ives' early Ballads and Folk Songs albums, which were originally released on Decca. Five of the ten songs also appeared in The Burl Ives Song Book, a popular paperback first published in 1953 that contained arrangements and lyrics for over a hundred folk songs Ives collected. The performances on Songbook lack the pop gloss of Ives' later recordings, and feature his distinctive voice plaintively singing old public domain ballads and songs such as "Barbara Allen" and "The Devil's Nine Questions" with only an acoustic guitar for accompaniment. The recordings were made in 1949 and are among his earliest. Ives' first folk recordings for Decca have not received as much attention as his efforts for Columbia in the '50s and his later, country-oriented Decca recordings from the '60s, so Songbook offers a useful, if brief survey of material from his earliest albums.