Guitar picker, singer, and banjo player extraordinaire Carl Jackson recorded two lovely albums in 1980 and 1982, Banjo Man and Song of the South, respectively. Now Sugar Hill has decided to offer a collection that gathers the best cuts from both albums in one place. An impressive guest list weighs in on Songs of the South, including Emmylou Harris, Jesse McReynolds, Marty Stuart, Keith Whitley, Jerry Douglas, and Vassar Clements. Lively instrumentals like "Earl's Breakdown," "Grey Eagle," and "John Henry," featuring dobro, fiddle, and banjo, play a central role on the album. The flashy guitar licks on "Lay Down My Old Guitar" would turn Tony Rice's head, while the banjo picking on "Ground Speed" would make Earl Scruggs proud. "On My Mind" and "You Are My Flower" feature old-time country vocals, with Jackson's clear tenor supported by some lovely harmony. "The Lonesome River" is embroidered with bluesy fiddle and dobro, and brought to fullness by a forlorn vocal. Complaints? Only that this disc is a short 38 minutes. Surely a 70-minute disc would hold most of both albums. This means that anyone who listens to this compilation and loves it will have to purchase two more albums to get the other 32 minutes of music. Still, only good things can be said about the tracks chosen for this disc. Sounds of the South is a good place to tune in to the wonderful sounds of Carl Jackson's singing and playing.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.