Kate Wolf Weaver of Visions: The Kate Wolf Anthology (Rhino)

Reissues

Kate Wolf

Weaver of Visions: The Kate Wolf Anthology (Rhino)

The poetry that fills the songs of the late Kate Wolf hearkens unmistakably, for followers of Texas music at least, to the songs of Townes Van Zandt. The lyrics are gorgeous verse, at times florid and at others stark, set to timeless folk melodies infused with dour country tones that are often stepped up to an energized bluegrass ramble. While it's tempting to compare her singing to that of Joni Mitchell or Carole King, truth is that Wolf's voice -- plain and beautiful -- is unique unto herself and her songs, and it's tragic that leukemia claimed the 44-year-old Bay Area native in 1986. Her life as a musician started relatively late, as her first album, Back Roads, wasn't recorded until 1975. The fact that she had just over a decade to create the catalog she did, impressive more for its depth than its breadth, makes the absence of this voice even more profound. Like Van Zandt, in life she garnered vast praise from fellow artists who knew her and her music, but only in death will her art reach a wider audience. This 2-CD Rhino anthology does a superb job in assembling 35 songs that span all of her albums as well as home and live recordings and a number of tunes from her 1985 appearance on Austin City Limits. Her songs evoke a time when people were more in tune with each other and with their natural surroundings, and nowhere more so than on the a cappella "The Lilac & the Apple," a song as haunting as it is beautiful, a voice from the not-so-distant past that still has plenty to say.

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