by: Hobart Taylor
Tom Beaulieu XIII and Mary Vaeni - Alice's Garden - (Self Released)
These old hippies have been sitting around picking and poeticizing for decades and they get it right because it is nothing but real. Alternating between Beaulieu's songs replete with organic and earthly pure rock melodies that are the folk music of the dedicated outsider and Vaeni's profound quotidian observations read in the subtle country twang of the sharp eared witness of who people are and the worlds in which they live, (both natural and psychological), this record is a document of a time and place that is America, and that has nothing to do with the United States.
Loretta Lynn - Full Circle - (Sony Legacy)
A gem. Lynn is in full control of her gifts. Her phrasing, song choice, intonation and arrangements are pure and authentic... no Nashville hokum here. Check out "Whispering Sea", her first song as a writer, the deeply folky "Black Jack David", the drunkard's lovers prayer "Wine into Water", "Everybody Wants to go to Heaven", and her duet with Willie Nelson "Lay Me Down". Yeah, a lot of songs about dying here, but the mood is serene and beautifully low key. Weakest cut, her duet with Elvis Costello where perhaps out of respect he holds back and thus adds nothing special to the tune.
Jeff Buckley - You and I - (Sony Legacy)
These are demos..pencil sketches. The voice is there as is the seminal arrangement for "Grace". I doubt if this would have been released if he had lived, but then there would be other records as well. He covers Dylan in a idiosyncratic read of "Just Like a Woman", and really takes off on a jazz based reading of "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying". These are fragments and variants that glimmer with like a winter sky moments after sunset.
Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes - Welcoming the Flood - (BC)
Brooklyncana ... ersatz folk music but cleverly crafted. The last two cuts seem more authentic and interesting to me: "Me on Other Planets" and the chipper ditty "We Will All Die Together".
Rebecca Folsom - Extraordinary Days - (Self Released)
These songs have heart and soul, what Scott Wolfson lacked. They are also well crafted. She paints with a broad brush and covers general topics, love nostalgia, awareness, nature etc. "Return to Love" is a keeper crying out to be covered and I am enamored of "Colorado", "Better Times", the poignant "Love As Is" and "Extraordinary Days".