Oh The Wind And Rain
Jody StecherAPR CD1030
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Sometimes being a reviewer is not easy. Just by reading Martin Carthy's liner notes for Jody Stecher's latest release, it becomes obvious that the man already said it all and much more eloquently than any poor reviewer ever could. So this piece actually might as well end here by giving out Carthy's simple advice. Too bad that the editor in charge probably wouldn't be pleased with such a meagre effort, so let's add a few more things, even against the odds of the mighty Carthy. |
For those who don't know it yet, Stecher is a national treasure. Back in the sixties when the term world music was not even conceived yet, Stecher was in the Bahamas with Peter K. Siegel to tape the great local musicians. For that alone, Stecher should be put on a pedestal. But Stecher is not some dusty old legend from decades ago. He is still going strong, proving that his contributions in the field of music are as valid today as they were all those years ago.
For this project Stecher handpicked eleven traditional ballads that he has been singing for a long time. Over the years he's listened to many different versions performed by others; some eventually influenced Stecher's own treatments. Possibly the next time you hear him in concert, the arrangements will already sound slightly different again. Time doesn't stand still and neither does Stecher. What you get are but recorded snapshots.
Stecher's approach to these traditionals is a careful one. His motto: it's the song that counts and not the singer. Stecher proves himself to be a soulful traditionalist. He doesn't simply play these songs, he lives them and brings life to them. A great deal of understatement hovers over this CD. The music needs its time and space, breathing quietly and showing almost supernatural strength. Nothing for hectic natures. The term 'mountain singer' comes to mind---not being preoccupied with the flashy aspects, but with the core of things. No electric instruments here---the emphasis stays strictly on the acoustic side. Despite the many beautiful contributions of banjo, fiddle, mandolin and acoustic guitar, this release occupies itself with the art of singing. Stecher's a natural and, therefore, it is no surprise that the two accapella songs are the absolute highlights on this album.
Stecher records only very occasionally, but has delivered another timeless album. Listen to it today, tomorrow or in twenty years; it is sure to hold up to its undeniable qualities. Back to Martin Carthy for the ultimate advice: "Go out and buy this record." Yeah.