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Jonathan Byrd - The Law and the Lonesome

The Law and the

Jonathan Byrd

Waterbug Records - WBG0085

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Verrrrrry moody, this marvelous CD of mostly lonely western tunes. Jonathan Byrd has a wide and weary soul, and that quality didn't come from a glitzy ride through Hollywood or Sarasota. With just himself and Chris Bartos, he's crafted a potent canvas as searing as Neil Young's stripped down masterpieces but with a touch of the laidback Eagles and the timbre one hears in the more haunting runs of a Chris Darrow or Ry Cooder.

Byrd not only sings, plays guitar, and rasps a fiddle but has a way with words that digs deep, not regarding the average Joe but instead life's outcasts and misfits, such as the Cherokee businesswoman and prostitute Diana Jones. His poetry has the ability to speak plainly even when poetically circumnavigating things. Chris Bartos plays everything else and sings backgrounds. Houston Window Blues kicks into a country rocker and several other songs follow behind it, straddling the morose tenor of the rest of the CD matched to an Eagles-ish timbre,"May the River Run Dry standing out furthest there.

Coyote drops back into the ravine, quieter, more considered, kinda Michael Murphey-ish in ways, a song about the elusive subject of the song. Galveston draws the cycle to a close, a perhaps-hopeful tune ending a triad that has become reflective rather than melancholy. Sitting in the afterglow, you realize that the disc is like a hot mid-West horizon fading into evening: the sun's gone, the ordeal of the daylight hours is over, and you can sit and think about things…but you're still thirsty for more.

Track List:

  • The Law & the Lonesome
  • Clean
  • Diana Jones
  • Houston Window Blues
  • The Fifth Wheel
  • Prairie Girl
  • May the River Run Dry
  • Coyote
  • Soldier's Lullaby
  • Galveston
All songs written by Jonathan Byrd, except
The Law and the Lonesome (Raymond / Byrd) and May the River Run Dry (Raymond / Hillier / Byrd).

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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