Unbelievably, almost every song on this CD was written by Joel Mabus but sounds as though unearthed from the Golden Age of old blues, folk, Tin Pan Alley, and Bob Wills. Moreover, there are just two guys here, Mabus and Frank Youngman, who plays bass. Joel's been around for a while (the cover photo kinda gives that away) and I, as a critic, have run across his name more than once on others' releases but personally discovered the guy with his Flying Fish release Settin' the Woods on Fire (1980 and out of print, dammit!), which remains in my permanent collection. His website, however, lists about 20 releases, with only 2 unavailable, so it's no longer difficult, as it tended to be in The Vinyl Era, to lay hold of his stuff.
Mabus is esteemed not just for wry lyrics, superb playing, and catchy compositions but also his banjo technique, which the bewhiskered gent teaches and issues instructional books about. No Worries Now… is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that though we're presently in the wave crest of The Next Republican Depression and things are about as bad as they could get, you've still got art and music, and that tends to ease all the stress a tetch, no? After listening to this waltzing, jitterbugging, swinging, folks-ing disc, you'll be forced to agree at least to that much.
In the press, not enough is made of Mabus' skills as a writer, but the guy sparkles in his lyrics (a sheet's included with the CD). A college course could be taught behind his poetry, and I, as a tutor, will now be suggesting some of this disc's work for analysis by my high school students. A good deal more clever than much of Shel Silverstein, whom I also convey to kids, many of his words are jam-packed with multiple levels of meaning despite the rurality and sidewalk nature of much of them. Toss rootsy music on top, and you have a very formidable result.
Want music that not only makes yer toes tap and hips sway? Give a listen to any cut here and sit amused as you ponder just what he's saying. For an added bonus, the composer's liner notes are often both hilarious and ironic. How many people do you know who can allude to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Judas Iscariot, and Jean-Paul Marat and make it all eminently sensible?
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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