For fans of the ever-eclectic Harvey Reid, The Great Sad River offers something new: a duo recording. Fiddler/singer Joyce Andersen joins the singer/guitarist, bringing a new complexity and depth to the Woodpecker recording studio. While Reid has always played multiple instruments and dipped into a half-dozen genres, he has usually recorded with no more than one instrument and a solo voice. On the first cut, "Moonshiner's Blues," the listener immediately recognizes the difference. After a brief guitar intro, Andersen and Reid enter as a duo, and by the chorus the fiddle has been added to the mix. Their voices reveal and balance one another, adding a mysterious intricacy to the 13 originals and covers that grace the album. A Scottish air filters through "Home Again (From Foreign Lands)," a pleasing instrumental, while tragedy taints a particularly affecting version of Pete Droge's "The Fourth of July." Other interesting choices include a five-minute version of Jesse Winchester's "Mississippi You're on My Mind" and a fine take on the closer, "Further Along." As always, Reid's guitar work is impeccable. Anderson's fiddle likewise spices up these sessions with lovely flourishes and fills. With The Great Sad River, Reid has once again shown himself to be forever unpredictable and always interesting. Fans have long since adjusted to his eclecticism and will welcome the addition of Andersen's voice and fiddle with open ears.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.