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HOG-EYED MAN - Old World Music Of The Southern Appalachians 

HOG-EYED MAN - Old World Music Of The Southern Appalachians 
Tiki Parlour Recordings TPR013 

Back in 2014 and 2015 I reviewed the first and second albums under the Hog-eyed Man sobriquet (“more of a concept than a band”), which conceals the identities of Jason Cade (fiddle) and Rob McMaken (lap dulcimer, mandolin, guitar). I praised the resourcefulness of the tune research, the unpretentiousness and honesty of the guys’ thoughtful approach to their sources, their fully committed playing and their excellent individual and collective musicianship. Sadly their third album never reached me, but glory be, here’s number four!

Here proving you really can’t have too much of a good thing, Jason and Rob deliver a further 19-track selection of tunes, mostly drawn from fairly obscure recordings from the old-time fiddling traditions of eastern Kentucky and their Blue Ridge Mountain homeland (western North Carolina, northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee). Every single one’s a winner!

This fourth album does involve a couple of minor departures from the winning formula of albums 1 and 2 though: firstly in that Jason and Rob allow some of the tunes to drift into new tunings or time signatures (and yet still sound completely authentic and in context), and secondly in that they’re joined on a number of selections by four guest musician pals (variously on banjo, uke and/or guitar). The wonderfully congenial, seriously feelgood vibe of the homespun living-room sessions adds to the already considerable interest of the tunes themselves, and listening to the whole 56-minute album straight through proves impossible to resist (indeed, I can’t get enough!). This is a total delight from start to finish, and comes complete with top-notch liner notes. It’s a sound recommendation for the old-time aficionado, while also of considerable appeal to anyone who values integrity and honest-to-goodness musicianship in that repertoire.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 128 of The Living Tradition magazine.