The Great Sad River
For sale on this website(MasterCard/Visa) from Joyscream Music, or send a check ($17 + $2 shipping per CD) to the address below."The Great Sad River" is a stunning new collaboration by acoustic string legend and songwriter Harvey Reid and singer/fiddler/songwriter Joyce Andersen. Out on Woodpecker Records and available also through Joyscream Music, the 11 songs and 2 instrumentals consist of 6 new Reid originals, a Scottish ballad, a gospel classic, a hip-folk Andersen song, plus covers of an unreleased Dylan song, a Jesse Winchester chestnut, a surprise from grunge-rocker Pete Droge's early work, and a gem from Canadian newcomer David Francey. Reid and Andersen showcase their razor-sharp harmony singing, imaginative arrangements and considerable instrumental skills, but never lose their focus on the content of the songs, weaving a tapestry of what they call "love, water & darkness" through this near-mystical concept album.
Though Reid has been most known for his instrumental solo fingerstyle guitar work, he spends much of this record with a flatpick in hand, driving the songs with an authoritative, rootsy edge, reminding the listener of his early years as a bluegrass picker, street musician, and ardent student of traditional American music. Recorded in Reid's trademark live, sparse, purist style, The Great Sad River draws from Reid and Andersen's years of playing bluegrass, but is richly flavored with the celtic and storytelling traditions of the coast of Maine, where they live and record. Reid introduces 4 cuts with the majestic mandocello, and from his pen comes an epic trilogy of songs about the seafaring history of Maine, providing fans of his songwriting some of his best lyrics and vocals ever. Andersen's strong fiddle work and captivating voice are the perfect complement to his guitars, autoharp, banjo, and slashing bottleneck slide work, and her violin and viola swirl and soar with authority and imagination. She takes control of her solo songs with both sweetness and toughness, and brings a welcome contemporary edge to the collaboration.
The result is 60 minutes of pure acoustic magic: profound and durable songs played and sung with urgency, grace and power. It's hard to believe that most of this recording is just two people playing together, and the thoughtful songs, lilting fiddle tunes and passionate performances cast a spell that takes you from the hills of Scotland to the stormy seas of New England, on into the heartlands, farms and cotton fields, through heartbreak and hope, setting you down gently with a taste in your mouth of all that is good in American acoustic music. Serious, but emotional and uplifting, this album bridges traditional and modern folk musics, melting celtic, gospel, rock, blues and bluegrass, but with the remarkably close and effective intertwining of these two artists always on center stage.
The Great Sad River was recorded in pristine 24-bit high-resolution digital quality, and should be a thrill to those who love rich and pure acoustic recordings, free from overproduction and drums.