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Chris Stuart & Backcountry - Crooked Man

Crooked Man

Chris Stuart & Backcountry

Available from Chris Stuart's web site.

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

Heh!, they call this "NeoProtoFolkiBlueGramericana for the discriminating masses" and it's hard to argue with that -- though they left out the Celtic aspect—because this quintet knows its stuff, deftly blending all the referenced modes. Their base is strongly bluegrass and Americana. Not only that but the sextet can boast a highly skilled set of hands at the soundboards as well, as Janet Beazley (pennywhistles, banjo, lead and backing vocals) and Eric Uglum (guitars, mando, b. vocals) engineered this spotless disc, and Janet produced it.

CS&B won first place in the songwriting division at MerleFest for exactly the sort of seamlessly sparkling songs documented here, tunes steeped in old rhythms while fusing to latterday modes. Everything is perfectly in place, bristling with tradition and invention, smooth as silk while wild as the North 40. There are ballads and burners, gentle sighs and heated instrumental passion. The opening title cut is the perfect intro, sprightly, folky, harmonic, somewhat Strawbs-ian (ca From the Witchwood), a bit Pentangle-ish, and 100% roots American.

Brunswick Stew is a great plaintively harmonic wail between Stuart and Beazley with only banjos for back-up. Works perfectly. Ofer and Yesbuddy is another Mr. Bojangles, a sentimentalist paean to the simple pleasures, an unashamed tearjerker, while I See God Coming Down the Road and When We Come Home are religionist, a staple of the genre since the outset, hence not to be scamped, especially for the lamentive values. Thus, Crooked Man holds a firm place in the independent American music field that is, quite frankly, posing an increasing threat to the mainstream. Come the interregnum, they'll be there for the changing of the guard.

Track List:

  • Crooked Man
  • The Streets of Charlottetown
  • Lantern Bay Inn (Janet Beazley)
  • Sojourner
  • I Remember Memphis
  • When We Come Home (Janet Beazley)
  • Silverton (Christain Ward)
  • The Crime at Quiet Dell
  • These Tears
  • Ofer and Yesbuddy
  • Brunswick Stew
  • Thirteen Steps
  • I Saw God Coming Down the Road
All songs written by Chris Stuart except as noted.

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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