Not a new album but a digital collection of, indeed, two separate releases. Two Originals is a handy pairing of Rose's two albums for the Eclipse label in 2003: Red Horse, White Mule and Opium Musick. Both are drawn from a number of efforts recorded over the previous two years and make for an entrancing listen all around. Given Rose's knowledge of world-wide musics, as well as his astonishing work in Pelt and elsewhere, it's lovely to hear his abilities on solo acoustic guitar, retaining all the breadth of his abilities but in a gentler setting akin to the Black Twig Pickers. While comparisons to the legends of Takoma Records are almost unavoidable, like such fellow travelers as Cul de Sac's Glenn Jones (who guests with Rose on "Linden Ave Stomp") Rose aims to use the notable work of John Fahey and Robbie Basho as a starting point instead of simply an end to itself. Beginning with the lengthy, entrancing "Red Horse," as lovely a testament to the fragile beauty of acoustic guitar as anything recorded this millennium (but not lacking in spry, quick energy), Rose covers everything from blues and folk roots to elegant, Asian-inspired melodies ("Yaman Blues" in particular, featuring guest Mike Gangloff on tampura). Like Pelt, Rose is able to use his music to create a sense of trance-inducing calm -- not simply lovely music to enjoy, but to focus on or drift away in, especially given such fine ten-minute explorations as "Mountaintop Lamento." The one cover on the album is a striking one -- Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground." While lacking the combination of voice and guitar that made Johnson's version so haunting, Rose's interpretation of the blues standard is at once familiar and unnerving, stretching out the melody just enough to put his own stamp on it.
Two Originals of Jack Rose Review
by Ned Raggett