In his last foray, Mark Growden issued the appropriately titled Saint Judas (here), a very dark paradise of grim delights set far back in the soul; this time, he's clawed his way back from that Hell to sit in piney woods and scratchy meadows. Lose Me in the Sand is much more personal, vastly less dense, and intensely human, kind of a folked-out combo of John Hartford, Doug Kershaw, and various of the more idiosyncratic roots gents. Sand sheds all the sulfur cabaret of Judas in order to reflect, I very strongly suspect, the mood of the times as America is slowly destroyed by Republicans, conservatives, corporatists, and all the other identities businessmen adopt. Only just so many lines indicate this—"And the pines just sigh while the wallets run dry"—but the mood quintessentially yearns not just for lost innocence but also for adventurous adolescence while rebuking venality, most notably in a collision of The Star Spangled Banner, Mercedes Benz, and Molly Rose Waltz.
The CD starts out, though, in a recitation of Ronnie Shannon's You Ain't Never Been Loved (The Way that I Love You), turned into a hit by Aretha Franklin decades ago but here revealing the aberrant psychology underlying feverish lyrics somewhat akin to The Police's Every Move You Make. Airy and mellowly grooved, the song nonetheless quickly becomes unsettling, a revelation of unnerving focus and fetish. Where Aretha was estrogenically impassioned, Growden is diabolical, a backwoods barroom lothario. He subtly re-wrote / re-arranged the song to inflect creepy sentimentality as a psychological study, and it works to chilling effect. Thank God for the nervously hoedowny Settle in a Little While following it, breaking the spell of the alarming Never Been Loved, an echo of Judas.
A number of covers make their way into the mix, including a far better version of I'm on Fire than The Boss is even capable of and a rendition of the trad Shady Grove last heard by rock ears in the 70s in Quicksilver Messenger Service's LP of the same name. Growden, in this latest release, again favors banjo and accordion alongside that there singing' voice o' his'uns while the Tucson String Band is exquisitely laid back, Clay Koweek especially fine in a masterfully restrained slide suggesting balmy days, open skies, and golden wheatfields in skillfully abbreviated connotation. Lose Me in the Sand, my friends, is NOT a reprise of Saint Judas at all but rather the last gasp of perforated humanity well before the Stygian gates open wide. There are pains and there are pleasures, but mostly there's Mark Growden's distinctive troubadoric artistry in a reflective/warning oracle of caution, regret, and memory. And speaking of memory, the hypnotic Takin' My Time could well become a standard one day, so remember that I told you so.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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