A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
The essence of acoustic music has always been and always will be, the living room. YONDER by Jerry Douglas and Peter Rowan is a living room album, in the highest and most literal senses. In fact, much of the album was actually recorded in the living room of friends. To give it that old-time sound, classic Neuman tube microphones were used run though a digital system. It's clean, its real and its simple.
The songs on the album are a mix of classics from Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family and others, and originals from Rowan's prolific pen. Instrumentation consists of Rowan's acoustic guitar and Douglas's dobro. Period. It couldn't be better. Both artists manage to showcase their considerable musicianship without becoming overly flashy or showy. The simple fabric of the album is preserved throughout every minute.
There are some special spots in this album. My favorites: "Wayside Tavern" and "Can't Get There From Here", two Rowan originals sure to be heard in many a living room and festival in years to come. Listen to Rowan and Douglas play the opening licks together on "Can't Get There From Here", and you're out riding the range yourself. "Cannonball Blues" is a fresh take on the traditional song so many of us learned to love the first time we heard it played by Doc Watson. "When You And I Were Young, Maggie" features an instrumental arrangement by Jerry Douglas that makes this well known tune sound brand new.
YONDER is an album for the lover of traditional acoustic music. If you are one of those who laments at the over-production of so many of today's acoustic artists, this album is for you. Rowan says it all in the liner notes, quoting one of his mentors:
"These are the rural routes Jerry and I have been traveling; finding new
melodies in the old songs, discovering our own way of getting there. In
the words of Bill Monroe, we have 'come hither to go yonder.' "
Copyright 1996, Three Rivers Folklife Society.
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