Darryl Holter never settles for the easy answer or the even easier lyric, whether his own or others', as is well demonstrated in the first track in Crooked Hearts (Dave Alvin's unsettling love song Mary Brown) and most everywhere else in this new release. The more difficult questions in life and living are what concern the rootsy folker, not endlessly repeating paeans to Norman Rockwell fantasies. The back story to Holter is contained in the review to his last effort, West Bank Gone (here), but, this time around, I'm detecting a few Glenn Yarbrough touches here and there as well. Holter may have moved on in time, but his heart still resides in that old West Bank milieu.
His version of Murphey & Koerner's I Ain't Blue, two composers he strongly favors, cogently reminds one of David Bromberg's old cover of DeWayne Blackwell's I'm Mister Blue, here in a nicely reworked even mellower downtone cover, as was the case with Bromberg's heart-tug. Several esteemed guests sit in—Dave Alvin, Benmont Tench, Willie Murphey, etc.—and Holter even wisely cribbed a riff from Keith Jarrett's famed Concert at Koln LP of '74, building Midnight in Cologne from it. When you're savvy enough to listen to Keith, the modern god of piano along with Gould and Evans, there's precious little you otherwise lack for, and Crooked Hearts is a corner of the world complete unto itself.
Holter, like Ian Tyson and others now well on in their careers, has reached a point where the many years logged have attained a savor and a savvy that transcend the hurly burly of the chartbusting world, where nuance and atmosphere replace hooks and crowd pleasing, where reflection and cautionaries take on new depth and significance. So if Crooked Hearts seems to take you down a path or two you hadn't expected, that isn't a mistake, and maybe it's time to consider what such insights portend in a world that seems hellbent on self-destruction. Maybe some new doors need to be opened as others are closed.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles