The Winding Stream (Carter Family Songs) – Various Artists

carter and cash
Omnivore Records

The Heart and Soul of Americana and Country Music.

I have a confession to make at the outset; that I’ve never been able to get my head around The Carter Family; primarily because I was brought up on finely produced music in the 1960’s and 70’s’ leaving their original recordings sounding like something from a time capsule.
With that attitude in mind I approached this album with some trepidation.
But hey; opening track Bear Creak Blues by John Prine nearly knocked me sideways. As you would expect from John Prine, this is a simple rendition of a traditional song; but the super-fast guitar and pedal steel coupled with Prine’s deadpan delivery grabbed my attention like a Grizzly Bear in Bear Creak itself.
Next up is a delicious version of Lord, I’m in Your Care by Grey DeLisle and Murry Hammond. I only discovered Grey earlier this year and this hauntingly Gospel track is as good as anything I fell in love with on her own album.
One absolute treat is the inclusion of George Jones singing Worried Man Blues; and while this track is many years old, it still sounds as exciting today as when it would have crackled out of transistors all over America back in the day.
My favourite track here is a toss up between Gold Watch & Chain by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band featuring Kris Kristofferson and the Carolina Chocolate Drops charming version of Hello Stranger. After due consideration I will go for the latter as I think they would do justice to every song here and make naysayers like myself re-evaluate the Carter Family legacy.
The album is the soundtrack to a Documentary film celebrating the Carter and Cash families; so it’s no real surprise to find Johnny Cash leading the Carter Sisters (Roseanne and Rosie) on a live recording of Will The Circle Be Unbroken. The surprise is how cool the song is; and I’ve heard a lot of versions over the years.
Of the Original Carter Family songs included here I’m Thinking Tonight, of My Blue Eyes is the one I like best; but I’d definitely prefer to hear a modern cut by someone like Roseanne Cash; who closes the album with the title track The Winding Stream, which I heard her perform at SummerTyne back in the Summer and it just goes to show that a great song, truly is timeless.

Released October 16th 2015

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