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Various Artists
Putumayo Presents: Americana
Putumayo Records
www.putumayo.com


Few label names are as synonymous with diversity and quality as that of Putumayo. Over the years the Putumayo label has released a ton of records covering folk/indigenous music from America to African and Jamaican to Israel and just about every other place there is music to be found. Putumayo's releases are timely, concerned more with documenting music as it happens now, rather than focusing on where the modern trends originated. One of the labels more recent collections is entitled Americana, and covers the blooming world of the alt. country scene happening right now.

Americana features a breadth of artists as diverse as the music that they play, but all with the common thematic elements of music that is derived from the folk music of the American people in the 19th century. Some of these songs, like the Tim O'Brien version of "House Of The Rising Sun" which draws deeply from Appalachian mountain music, are filled with dobro, mandolin, and acoustic guitar and contain that special darkness that was developed in that locale. Others, like The Little Willies' "It's Not You It's Me", are a fusion of archetypal jazz elements with some swinging Texas rhythms or the straightforward bluegrass of Alison Brown's "Deep Gap". The trademark sound of the Americana movement has always been the singer/songwriter and we have a few excellent examples presented here. The rambling tale of Robert Earl Keen, Jr.'s "Ride" is filled with his own particular grace and storytelling ability, creating one of the most ramblingly beautiful soundscapes with which to travel cross-country. Robinella's amazing "Down The Mountain" is the perfect starting track for this collection, a softly ambling, light bluegrass track with her distinct and haunting vocals. Josh Ritter's dark tale of love and loss "Harrisburg" is included here, a true testament to the abilities of today's songwriters, easily equaling the work of the late 60's folk movement.

If you are a music fan interested in getting to know about the Americana genre, Putumayo has assembled a very good, concise collection of songs that would be a great beginning to your travels. If you are an established fan of the genre and simply want a great little collection of some songs that you may not have otherwise heard, then this is a great companion CD to own… and maybe carry with you as a reference for when you meet folks that aren't wise to the new sounds of today's folk masters… yet.

-Embo Blake


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