David Mallett's into his fourth decade making music, and if you're not as hip to his name as to others', well, Pete Seeger, Emmylou Harris, The Muppets, Alison Krause, and a number of others don't suffer that misfortune and have been recording his materials for quite some time. It takes no more than the opening song, I Knew This Place, to see why. A very Gordon Lightfoot-ish number (and you, dear reader, might be just a tad surprised to find how many Lightfoot has inspired, even including Wayne Gardner of the heavy progband Magellan), it's redolent of rolling fields and big blue skies, human toil, existential lament, and redemptive awakening. Amid a covey of talented sessioneers, Mallett sets his expositions and gently pulls the audience into russet meadows with him.
The intricate Fat of the Land continues the homefolky conversation, even mentions Buckminster Fuller, and pines for days and ways gone by, less technologized, more humane. Mallett adopts a John Martynish refrain, boogyin' the pace to get a duck-walkin' shiver-step going and the atmosphere becomes puckish. Greenin' Up is actually a 'kinda anthology', though you'd never know that at first sight. It features 12 great tracks recapturing past tunes pondering the farming and rural life but also carries several new ones as well, his first since 2009. Fat is one of those and demonstrates that the man's skills haven't faded a whit. Listening straight through, you'd swear everything was recorded yesterday.
Dogs & Horses is quite Seeger-ish, containing a strong undercurrent of socialism and the wayfaring hobo life. It flows like a highway over open lands and up mountains, dancing and cavorting in sparkling meter with just that certain touch of wistfulness that, should you take it in over headphones at your work desk, will make you steal a glance at the boss, scratch your head over the dumb-ass work you might well be doing, wondering just where the hell you took the wrong step. The watercolor cover, reminding the attentive collector of the old David Rea LP By the Grace of God (and if you're really hip, you'll know Dave played rhythm gee-tar for Gordo), is a signal for the perceptive to relax a bit, pull up a chair, maybe take a pull at the jug, and even sing along with the melodies, to remember what it is to NOT be an automaton. Ya gotta know what the grass feels like on a summer's afternoon and smile at the passing clouds, and Greeenin' could quite easily be your ticket to the boyhood or girlhood it's still not too late to have for the third, second, or even the first time.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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