A collection of unassuming, unpretentious rural folk tunes, trying to be as authentic as possible to the songs in their original states, including the vocals. Most are with banjo or guitar; they’re simple and cheery, even the depressing songs. Most of the time it’s just Seeger playing one instrument with great virtuosity and singing. The liner notes are Smithsonian-style super extensive and even cover which historical or reconstructed instruments Seeger plays on each track, and what tunings they each use. All songs are well-played and sound good; I starred the ones that I happened to like at the time and which seemed quirky and interesting.
1. (1:45) Simple busy, sweet banjo tune. Instrumental.
*2. (2:38) Fast picked guitar, ballad with unconnected verses on a typical topic: a guy trying to find a wife.
3. (2:52) walkin’ tempo strumming, ballad about—a guy encountering a woman; turns into a murder story!
*4. (3:18) midtempo stroll; guitar with picked melody; Instrumental.
5. (1:42) A cappella, one voice; story of rafting in a storm; has kinda a funny end.
6. (0:27) one voice yodeling! “just a-singin’ to myself . . .”
7. (2:13) one voice and jew’s harp. Sounds like a country dance.
*8. (2:11) shaker and breathy pan-style flute (“quills”) and voice. Singing and piping at the same time is nifty. Midtempo jig.
9. (2:45) midtempo banjo and singing.
10. (3:33) banjo; cheerful song about a “spoonful” that seems to be about sex in a vague, quaint, euphemistic way.
11. (3:19) picked banjo and voice; cheerful song about gettin’ into heaven
12. (1:40) instrumental; fast minor-key guitar picking
*13. (2:33) has a really cool sound, almost chinese; played on a three-string lap dulcimer, busy picking and cheery vocals
14. (3:14) wistful quick strolling guitar strums and a story ballad about untrue love
15. (3:14) strolling guitar picking with a pretty familiar tune; plaintive lyrics about escaping on a freight train
16. (2:08) instrumental waltz played on fiddle and harmonica
17. (4:06) harmonica and fiddle and vocals; wailing lament to a girl slipping into prostitution, basically, I think
*18. (1:39) raw dancing fiddle tune (the fiddle is strung with banjo strings, FYI)
19. (1:57) pretty skipping waltz on harmonica
*20. (7:01) plucky rolling banjo, tragic ballad about a carpenter boy and a ship called the Golden Willow Tree (exact same story and really similar words, but different tune, from a song called the Golden Vanity)
*21. (2:36) bell-like instrumental played on—an autoharp! An old-fashioned Spanish sound.
22. (3:04) strummy autoharp! And a story about a guy trying to find a girl who doesn’t just love his money.
*23. (3:15) strummy autoharp and “quills” (the pan pipe sound) and vocals; triumphant sounding
----reviewed by mandy (la chanteuse)