Various Artists

Songs of the South: Farther Along

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This 18-song set from Time Life has a timeless, unhurried grace about it, and even though it is a compilation of various artists, it has a remarkably unified tone, as artists as diverse as Johnny Cash and Doc Watson tackle classic Southern folk songs with elegant reverence. Among the highlights here are Jerry Garcia and David Grisman's "Shady Grove," Emmylou Harris' haunting "Wayfaring Stranger," and the Everly Brothers' version of the murder ballad "Down in the Willow Garden," which is made all the more powerful and horrifying when sung in such sweet two-part harmony. The Staple Singers pull off a similar trick with the familiar "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," which rides Pops Staples' spooky, atmospheric and reverb-laden guitar playing until the question the song poses is hardly resolved. This is an anthology of great beauty, carefully assembled, and it illustrates the poignant strength of America's true folk songs.

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