Sarah Ogan Gunning

The Silver Dagger

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Two sisters from a down and out Kentucky mining family, Aunt Molly Jackson and Sarah Ogan Gunning were each the subject of reissues and new recording projects in the '70s. This album was a new recording of Gunning, advanced in years but still the owner of a powerhouse voice, and also features some harmony vocals from her father Jim Garland, a lovely touch. It is kind of a retrospective look at many different types of songs and singing she recalled from her childhood and, for a record of a capella singing, the variety is tremendous. There is the tale of "Davy Crockett," almost side by side with the devastating "I Hate the Capitalist System," one of the best protest songs ever recorded. The enclosed booklet on her family's background and struggles is really superb, but could have used a few staples to keep it together.

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