FAME Review: Mark Newton & Steve Thomas - Reborn
Mark Newton & Steve Thomas - Reborn


Mark Newton & Steve Thomas

Pinecastle Records - PRC1185

Available from Amazon.com.

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

For their debut CD, Mark Newton and Steve Thomas decided to kick off Reborn with their version of a wry update on an immortal folk song about good ol' Farmer McDonald in order to comment on current events, the tongue-in-cheek center of which lies in a verse telling us that the esteemed sodbuster got "Financial security the day they bought him out". Shades of Goldman-Sachs! Second up is the title cut, which carries another clever line ("When the devil locks the door, God hands me the key"), and so the roster runs as the singing/playing pair cherry pick a buncha good'uns by Bill Monroe, Buffy St. Marie, Willis Ramsey, and others, as well as one by Thomas himself. This is country-bluegrass, but Newton & Thomas prefer the mellower side of things, something that shines in Blue Railroad Train, reminding me of Brewer & Shipley working from Kentucky rather than Los Angeles. In fact, I have to say I strongly suspect the folk music crowd is going to love Reborn just as much as the country and Appalachian crowds.

The two gents trade off lead and harmony duties in the vocal department but often keep to an Andy Griffith-ish sense things—if, that is, the esteemed actor would have jazzed things up a bit every now and again (never forget that Ange was a gospel singer, among many talents). Ah, but then Pineywood Hills pops up, and Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger edge into the room to listen. Far Far Cry is a speedy zipalong with some killer banjo work from Scott Vestal, who appears in much of the CD except when Ricky Skaggs saunters in to add his skills to The Girl I Left in Sunny Tennessee. The main lads themselves get in lots of licks, especially Thomas, a multi-instrumentalist and wizard on mandolin and fiddle, and the overriding essence of the whole gig is of effervescently good times in the studio.

As usual, because this is a PineCastle product, the engineering values are flawless and bring out every last ray of sunshine in the venture. If you don't feel like moseying on down to the Grand Ol' Opry after listening to this truly fine CD, then, Lord, I don't know what's wrong with ya. Music this good would make even Metallica and Megadeth reconsider their headbanging ways, putting on a pair of jeans instead of them leather britches they fancy, chaw on a wheatstalk rather than whatever the hell it is they take to in those gawdawful arenas, and sit rapt as each cut rings out. There's a reason this kind of music never fades and in fact waxes in popularity year after year all around the world. Pop Reborn into your stereo and see why. Better yet, pop it into someone else's stereo and share. It's the neighborly thing to do.

Track List:

  • Old McDonald (Boudreau / Landry / Roberts)
  • The Key (Ward / Martin / Levelle)
  • Painted Lady (Willis A. Ramsey)
  • Blue Railroad Train (Delmore Bros.)
  • Pineywood Hills (Buffy St. Marie)
  • Far Far Cry (Steve Thomas)
  • Are You Missing Me (Louvin Bros.)
  • Country Song (T.P. Water)
  • The Girl I Left In Sunny Tennessee (traditional)
  • If It Ain t Love ((Dallas Frazier)
  • Kentucky Waltz (Bill Monroe)
  • Nobody s Business (traditional)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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