September 27, 2012

Martha Redbone Roots Project: The Garden of Love - Songs of William Blake

Martha Redbone
photo: Fabrice Trombert

Singer Martha Redbone had a vision: set the poems of William Blake (1757-1827) to music. Redbone grew up on Appalachian folk music and gospel, and both genres ended up om what would become the Martha Redbone Roots Project. The Garden of Love - Songs of William Blake is a landmark album that should propel her to the forefront of the folk scene. With a voice that comes close to Joan Armatrading, Redbone gets to the core of Blake's words, adding soul and swing to poems that were penned 200 years ago. Redbone wrote all the music with Aaron Whitby and John McEuen, exploring the various niches of folk and Americana, creating a patchwork of styles that all fit wraps itself around the listener like a favorite blanket.

Switching to minor keys to mirror the darker bits of Blake's words, she shows that words from yesteryear can sound fresh and relevant in the 21st Century. And it's a nice touch to invite Jonathan Spottiswoode to say a few words with his signature English phrasing in Why Should I Care for the Men of Thames - transatlantic time travel in words and music. Recommended if you like Fairport Convention and Maggie Reilly.

Martha Redbone: vocals, traditional chants and rattles
John McEuen: banjo, guitar, dobro, fiddle, mandolin, autoharp, lap dulcimer, music arrangements
David Hoffner: keyboards, pump organ, accordion, tack piano, hammered dulcimer
Mark Casstevens: guitars, harmonica
Byron House: upright bass
Debra Dobkin: percussion
Keith Fluitt, Michael Inge, Ann Klein, Mary Wormworth: background vocals
Aaron Whitby: additional keyboards

Special Guests:
David Amram: flute on "A Dream", percussion
Lonnie Harrington: Seminole chant and rattle on “A Dream”
Spottiswoode: recitation on “Why Should I Care for the Men of Thames”

Martha Redbone Roots Project: The Garden of Love - Songs of William Blake

The Garden of Love - Songs of William Blake is a self-released album. Buy it from her website. Full stream on bandcamp.com.

Tracks:
  1. The Garden of Love
  2. Hear the Voice of the Bard
  3. How Sweet I Roamed
  4. On Anothers Sorrow
  5. A Dream
  6. I Heard An Angel Singing
  7. I Rose Up at the Dawn of Day
  8. A Poison Tree
  9. The Ecchoing Green
  10. The Fly
  11. Epilogue: Why Should I Care for the Men of Thames
  12. Sleep Sleep Beauty Bright

Live date:

Video: Martha Redbone Roots Project - Hear the Voice of the Bard
(live on Michael Jonathan's WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour - 2012/08/20)

» martharedbone.com

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