WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND
The First Lady of American Folk Still Surprises, Astonishes and Delivers.
For once I don’t have to do an introduction do I? This is Joan Baez after all…..what else do you need to know?
Well; to coincide with Ms. Baez’s final ever Tour this album is yet again made up of songs written by her favourite contemporary songwriters; with a couple of delightful surprises along the way.
The Tom Waits/Kathleen Brennan song Whistle Down The Wind, which doubles as the title track opens proceedings and the first thing you notice is how beautiful Joan’s voice still is on this pleasing almost Celtic rendition of the song from Bone Machine.
Joan covers another of the couples more poetic songs; with the words of Last Leaf (on the tree) sounding uncannily perfect for Joan who is now of a ‘certain vintage’ herself.
With a million songs to choose from, only another couple were already familiar here at RMHQ with
Mary Chapin Carpenter’s The Things That We Are Made Of now becoming almost anthemic and Josh Ritter’s delicate Be Of Good Heart and Silver Leaf both sounding like they could have been on Joan’s debut album in 1960, thanks to the ethereal production from Joe Henry.
One of Henry’s own songs makes an appearance too; and Civil War takes on a whole new resonance in the hands and voice of American Folk Music’s First Lady…….’beautiful’ only comes close to describing the way she performs his words.
The major surprise for me though are the songs I’d never heard before; Eliza Gilykson’s The Great Correction is another timeless song that sounds like Joan could have recorded at anytime in the last 60 years as is Tim Erikson’s I Wish The Wars Were All Over; which is a stunning way to close this wonderful collection of songs.
Then of course I’m obliged to pick a ‘Favourite’ which in the light of today’s political shenanigans in the USA I can’t look past he stunning words of Zoe Mulford on The President Sang Amazing Grace. I’d not heard of Zoe prior to hearing this song…….but WOW……and indeed WOW……if the rest of her songs are half as powerful as this one song; she’s a very talented writer indeed and Joan Baez sings it as if her very life depends on you hearing it.
So, there you have it; Joan Baez’s 25th studio album and first in 10 years and she still has the ability to surprise with her choice of songs and, more importantly the way she delivers the words on a silver platter is astonishing after all of this time.
Released March 2nd 2018