Songs of the Civil War Era: Interpretations by Austin's Finest Musicians (Blue Corn)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Sept. 30, 2011
Dark RiverSongs of the Civil War Era: Interpretations by Austin's Finest Musicians (Blue Corn)
The fact that the songs on Songs of the Civil War Era are 150 or more years old only increases their impact. That these compositions are covered by the cream of Austin's singer-songwriter elite makes the project an impressive listen. Masterminded by guitarist Chuck Pinnell, the collection combines his fascination with the Civil War and the Old West with a deep appreciation for folk music of varying stripes. Warren Hood and Rich Brotherton kick things off with the stirring fiddle tune "Shiloh" before the album winds its way through traditional fare sung by Eliza Gilkyson, Jon Dee Graham, Slaid Cleaves, and James McMurtry, among others. Erin Ivey's solemn reading of "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier" finds the young local songstress expanding her voice in a way that's stunning. Both Drew Nelson ("Hard Times") and Suzi Stern ("Oh! Susanna") lend too much of a contemporary air to Stephen Foster's songs, but as a whole, Dark River is splendid in style and execution.