The Wayfaring Strangers - Shifting Sands Of Time

Shifting Sands Of Time

The Wayfaring Strangers

Rounder 11661-0484-2

Rounder Records
One Camp Street
Cambridge, MA 02140

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Moshe Benarroch

This is a concept album, built on rediscovering public domain or almost public domain music, and bringing it together with all of the music played in North America: country, folk, jazz, klezmer, pop, rock, new age, blues, Cajun, classical, and others.

We can go as far back as the late 70's, when the British Paul Kennerly released two great albums based on the American Civil War, White Mansions and Jesse James, and invited musicians like Johnny Cash, Albert Lee, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell and many others to play on those wonderful albums. But I think that this CD is less tied to a specific concept, and reminds me more of two CD's released in the past three years: Darryl Anger's Heritage (Anger appears here in the liner notes and as guest violinist) and Tom Russell's The Man From God Knows Where. The name of this group is taken from the traditional song Wayfaring Strangers appearing both on this CD and on Russell's.

The idea behind these three CD's is taking mostly traditional songs, or songs that will probably become traditional very soon, and recording them with different instrumentalists as well as vocalists. In this CD we have as guest vocalists a long list of famous singers: Lucy Kaplansky, Ralph Stanley, Tracy Bonham, Laurie Lewis, Tim O'Brien, and, as part of the "band," Jennifer Kimball. Many of these performers are first class songwriters as well.

Although the headmaster behind this project is Matt Glaser, a violinist, the instrument that sets the tone of this recording is the clarinet. It begins with a haunting solo by clarinetist Andy Statman, and although he disappears for short periods of time on the CD, it is the dominant instrument. This is something you would expect to happen on a Klezmer CD or at least in jazz, and not on a CD that is closer to folk.

It is hard to write about specific songs or versions of songs, since what really makes this CD special is not the separate ingredients, but the taste of the final soup. It is obvious that something is really happening here; some kind of magic that makes this CD a pleasure to listen to for a whole hour and still come out with a smiling face asking for some more, just one more song, please....

I recommend this CD to all lovers of great music, be it folk or jazz, new age or country, as well as the other CD's cited here. I think this kind of project should be heard more often, judging by the results. It is an unexpected CD and a winner for 2001.

Track List:

  • Shifting Sands of Time 4:53
  • Man of Constant Sorrow 3:20
  • High on a Mountain 4:47
  • I'm Blue, I'm Lonesome Too 3:29
  • Motherless Child 7:55
  • Cry, Cry, Darling 3:58
  • June Apple 6:03
  • Memories of You 4:03
  • Funeral in My Brain 4:11
  • Working on a Building 6:16
  • Strange Bird 4:05
  • Rank Stranger 5:02
  • Wayfaring Stranger 6:20

Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz

Copyright 2002, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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