Link to Living Tradition Homepage






Free Dirt Records DIRTCD0072

‘Sixteen stories’ is the phrase which prefaces the booklet accompanying this outstanding second CD from old-time singer-musicians Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle. Each of the 16 songs gets a double-page spread, with accompanying images – studio or scenery shots, family photographs - a sample of verses, and a line or two about where these songs came from. Stories, then, are what matter here. While both musicians have their separate musical careers, their partnership has led to the imaginative explosion of literally illustrating their singing with animation, puppetry and the famous ‘cranky’ (a quilted scroll which depicts scenes from ballads).

Here on the album though, they can land you right in the middle of a song without any need for visuals. Elizabeth’s full-throated singing is rooted staunchly in the high lonesome Appalachian style, massaged by Anna’s deeper tones. Banjo, guitar and fiddle are stripped-back to the very bones to solitary plucks and drones, highlighting the sister-closeness of their voices as they switch between unison and needlepoint-accurate harmony. The heartsore simplicity of Don’t Want To Die In The Storm is delivered like the desperately intimate prayer it is, while on Greenwood Sidey (The Cruel Mother), they evoke a sense of fate closing in on a desperate woman to a pitch more nightmarish than any I have heard. There are lighter moments too; Connie Converse’s Father Neptune, the redemptive elation of Voice From On High and a shimmering rendition of the ballad Orfeo, replete with uileann pipes.

The presence of song carriers here and gone is never far away. Tradition bearer Alice Gerrard, who also features on the album, writes in the sleevenotes: “These young women follow in the footsteps of many of our idols and mentors who’ve gone before…and they do them proud…” Old-time music? This is music for all time.

Clare Button

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 108 of The Living Tradition magazine.