The commercial and critical success of the "old-time"/bluegrass-drenched music in the 2000 movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou," its "Down from the Mountain" tour-film spin off, and recent "Cold Mountain" blockbuster proved that millions of Americans were eager to connect to their countrys musical roots. This second solo CD by Tim Eriksen, already a burgeoning cult figure as one of the leading U.S. traditional folk balladeers, should be their next focus.
Eriksen, featured vocalist on three "Cold Mountain" songs and arranger of two "shape note" songs on the soundtrack, sees music as a link between the past and present and between individuals and communities, which has led him to the ten traditional American folk ballads he reanimates here and the four haunting original compositions that comprise this view of pre-20th Century life and its 21st Century resonance. Tim brings sounds of the American past into the "now," starting with the first track, an original a cappella salute to sunrise in the strong, brave tenor voice that has won him awe. He follows with chilling accounts of the Civil War, the lament of a traveling preacher (one of two songs utilizing harmonic, "overtone" singing that imitates the buzz of nature), murder ballads, and sprinkles in a pair of instrumentals. Tims has a scholars instinct for uncovering obscure, often unrecorded folks songs, and his liner notes give a fascinating insight into their history and his own sensibilities. Tims two other compositions are "A Tiny Crown," a tale of imagination, reality and sea monkeys, and the eerie, hovering title song.
Using the same minimal, live-in-the-studio technique as on his first CD, Tim performs alone here, cycling between guitar, banjo, and fiddle without overdubs, an approach in keeping with the direct connection between Tim, his music and his listeners.
"A starkly beautiful journey well worth taking." -- Dirty Linen, August/September 2004
"Eriksen seems to speak from the graves of long-ago eras, so expressive and uncommonly genuine are his root-bare recitations." -- The Isthmus, Madison, WI.
"Eriksen's stark, no frills approach makes every song spring to vibrant life..." -- Harp, October 2004
"Utterly singular . . .A wonderful collection of old-time folk obscurities . . . Eriksens voice sounds hewn from oak." -- Uncut (UK), August 2004
"[A] soulful collection of mostly traditional tunes...He's a storyteller at heart, with a distinctive, unvarnished voice." -- Washington Post, May 28, 2004