P.O. Box 1861
Asheville, NC 28802
A review for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange.
By Jim Lewis
These days, I'll jump at the chance to hear a new recording of any artist who is brave enough to record traditional music. The occasion is all too rare. Apparently, tradition doesn't sell.
Carol Mallett's OLD AND NEW FROM THE MOUNTAINS, from Folkroots Entertainment consists of several traditional pieces and a couple (written by Ms. Mallett) that might as well be.
I particularly liked "Sail Away Ladies" (but then, I've been collecting versions of this song for 30 years or more). "Willie My Darling," the tear jerker, "Dear Companion," and "When the Wagon Was New" (which, by the way, was completely new to me--are you sure it's traditional?) also hit the spot.
Overall, though, OLD AND NEW is what I'd have to call a mixed bag.
Carol Mallet's voice is real 'old timey,' however, she sometimes sounds as if she doesn't care much for the song she's singing. This, I thought, is particularly true of "When you and I Were Young Maggie" and (of all things) "Wildwood Flower." Maybe I've just heard the latter too often. After all, if anyone is going to do a traditional song, it's this one. "Barque of Life" is another that lacked the pathos it should have been given.
[Editor's note: Others would consider her approach restrained; a fairly
common tack taken by early interpretors of this musical style.]
But now, if you like good old timey pickin', there's some of that on here. Ms. Mallett does a respectable job on the guitar. She is ably assisted on occasion by Rich Hartness on fiddle and guitar; Beth Hartness, guitar; Bucky Hanks, guitar; David Holt on banjo; and Hilary Dirlan on bass.
These musicians can be heard to good effect on the lively "Rufus Blossom," which is one of the more rousing and entertaining numbers on the CD. (This was another that did not sound traditional to me--and I could not find it listed in my library. But hey, I'm not the Library of Congress.)
Would I buy this one? Sure. It says traditional on it. Would I recommend it? Yeah. After all, she plays traditional music and you don't find that much these days.