Suppers on the Table
John McCutcheon is a mainstay in the sail of folk music. This is attested to by his previous 24 Rounder albums, which display his wonderful voice and his handiwork on a variety of instruments. My first acquaintance with his work was his hammered dulcimer playing on the instrumental album Wind That Shakes the Barley. His new release, Suppers on the Table Everybody Come In, is a collection which samples a total of sixteen songs and one instrumental from his past albums, plus a previously unreleased song just for this recording.
A variety of the songs here were written in the 90's. There are children's songs like Calling All the Children Home and Who'll Rock the Cradle. There are ballads like The Memory of Old Jack and Dead Man Walking, a chilling reminder of the reality of capital punishment. Room at the Top of the Stairs reminisces on the empty nest as children grow up and leave home (I'm told this actually happens). Happy Adoption Day celebrates the arrival of an adopted child into the family. The one instrumental, Leviathan, combines hammered dulcimer and clarinet to create the ambience of whales swimming in the open seas. Closing the Bookstore Down recalls the passing of placid times browsing at the old familiar book store which is now replaced by a strip mall. And Immigrant, my favorite from the album, is a majestic reflection on John's stature with the legends of folk music.
This Rounder Heritage collection is a good way to become acquainted or reacquainted with one of the greats of folk music. It contains a nice booklet that gives more information about the performer, the words for all of the songs, and a discography for those wanting to sample more of McCutcheon's work. With the craft of his songwriting and his voice, John McCutcheon touches us inside. Isn't that what folk music is about?