Michael Jonathon

(PM 70007)

PoetMan Records USA
P. O. Box 24187
Lexington, KY 40524

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Barbara Douglas

Michael Jonathon's CD "Woodsongs" is the kind of music you'd hear being played on front porches in rural Kentucky on a Friday or Saturday night-folks just enjoying themselves and the music.It's a montage of bluegrass standards, modern folk classics and original compositions. As a former resident of central Kentucky, I was immediately struck by the list of special guests on this CD: Homer Ledford, Jean Ritchie, and J.D.Crowe....names normally murmured in hushed, reverent tones in that part of the country.

The CD begins with a version of "Shady Grove" unlike any I've heard before. It's done with an almost ballad like treatment...which works amazingly well. "Colista's Jam" (written in honor of Mrs. Homer Ledford) is a simple, joyous anthem of love, as is "Summer Honeymoon". Both are original compositions by Jonathon. On "Shenandoah", the old oft-recorded tune, Michael's unique phrasing gives new life to a beautiful song. One woefully short instrumental, "Blackberry Blossom", shows off Mr. Ledford's mandolin talents. I could have listened to him play for hours.

This project is not without its weak points: "Mr. Bojangles" had me quickly reaching for the "skip" button. But Michael redeemed himself with a live version of "Mousie Highway", an affirmation of the joys of life in Appalachia.

I must admit that I was never a fan of Jonathon's earlier efforts. On this CD, however, it appears that he has matured as an artist, choosing songs that fit his vocal style, rather than trying to make his vocal style fit songs. No Grammy material...no radio hits....but all in all, this is an enjoyable disc. Besides...how can you possibly go wrong with a CD that states: ""Homer Ledford appears out of plain courtesy"?

Edited by Kerry Dexter

Copyright 1997, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
It may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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