Ramblin' Jack Elliott: A Stranger Here (Anti/Shock)

 |   |  <1 min read

Ramblin' Jack Elliott: Soul of a Man
Ramblin' Jack Elliott: A Stranger Here (Anti/Shock)

When the previous album by this one-time fellow traveller with Woody Guthrie and mentor to the young Bob Dylan arrived -- I Stand Alone of two years back  -- I had to admit I thought Elliott had long since passed on.

But that album not only confirmed he was alive and well, but also pretty darned sprightly. This one produced by Joe Henry and with a band which includes David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, Van Dyke Parks and others, finds him in excellent form on a selection of Depression Era country blues, many written by people like Son House, Mississippi John Hurt and others that Elliott knew.

But the musical re-settings by Henry are inventive -- the deep pulse and unnerving guitars on Soul of a Man, piano in many songs as much as guitar, Tex-Mex touches on How Long Blues -- and so these 10 songs rise above their origins and while they remain partytime music, meditations on life, deep blues or songs with a political subtext they also have a contemporary edge. There are songs here -- Grinnin' in Your Face, Death Don't Have No Mercy -- which are as dark as anything on an early Bonnie Prince Billy or melancholy alt.country album, but by being sung by a 77-year old they carry a very different weight and meaning.

The final track is Please Remember Me. Makes me embarrassed that until two years ago I hadn't. 

 

 

 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

The Jayhawks: Anthology; Music from the North Country (American)

The Jayhawks: Anthology; Music from the North Country (American)

This influential alt.country/indie-rock band from Minneapolis has a long and slightly convoluted history: Mark Olson quit in '95 after a decade, but has latterly rejoined co-founder Gary... > Read more

Tiny Ruins: Brightly Painted One (Unspk)

Tiny Ruins: Brightly Painted One (Unspk)

The previous album Some Were Meant For Sea by Holly Fullbrook -- who was then sole proprietor of the name Tiny Ruins -- was such a delicately nuanced and quiet affair it was hardly surprising on... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Milly's Peach & Blackberry (or any berry) Cake

Milly's Peach & Blackberry (or any berry) Cake

Camilla -- aka Milly -- who supplied this Firm Family Favourite says it's her "never fail, loved everywhere" recipe. Having flicked through the recipes at Elsewhere she decided there... > Read more

Let It Be; A Beatles Celebration, Civic Theatre, Auckland, March 26 2015

Let It Be; A Beatles Celebration, Civic Theatre, Auckland, March 26 2015

There's a very simple answer to the question of why people go to tribute shows. They go to hear the familiar music . . . and to check out how well the performers... > Read more