Time to leave the city! The expansive, homeopathic teachings of Jean Ritchie’s 1952 debut sees its first vinyl reissue (LORD how needed it was) in perfect cadence with our first glimpses of summer.
Her all-encompassing, powerful yet TREMBLIN’ voice, accompanied only by a home-built, calmly flayed mountain dulcimer, Ritchie’s own fantasies and imaginations are injected across sixteen songs that were first taught to her by her mother, father and fourteen older siblings - fully set to dial us into the bewildering PHENOMENON that is the natural world. This collection also somehow manages to make the thought of growing up amongst the bees n trees, sharing a bedroom with 10 + of yer brothers and sisters and doing actual physical labour every day sound quite, er, idyllic…?
Calorie counting commuter-(b)rat daydreams to one side, the liner notes read:
“These songs did not come from books”.
Too right - a million miles from the stiff, procedural conventions you may or may not expect from songs that are centuries old, what ye have here are HEART-STUNG ballads played with a strong, intuitive rhythm. Songs like “O Love Is Teasin” and “Black Is The Colour” effortlessly evolve, traversing their traditional trappings and giving new life to these visions of the country. TEEMING with personality, the phrasing and flexibility (FOLK AEROBICS?) of these translations ascend into love-lorn mountain mantras and sparse, rhythmic dulcimer enchantments with Ritchie’s life’s practice blended and embedded deep in every note, drawing timeless parallels between all mortal struggles and the cyclic comforts of nature. FFO Basho, Collins, “Gardens Where We Feel Secure”, The Fates, Sandy Bull ++