Long one of America's most popular and acclaimed roots/folk artists, Lucy Kaplansky returns with Over the Hills, a rich alt-country mix of great originals and classics by June Carter Cash, Bryan Ferry, Ian Tyson, Loudon Wainwright III. This release could well be on of THE roots/folk events of 2007. Produced by veteran producer Ben Wittman, the band includes Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan Band) Jon Herrington (Steely Dan) and Duke Levine (Mary C. Carpenter) with guest vocals from Eliza Gilkyson, Buddy Miller, Richard Shindell and Jonathan Brooke.
Though the strength of her songwriting has distinguished previous releases by folk troubadour Lucy Kaplansky, here she covers a wide range of material, from "More Than This" by Roxy Music's Bryan Ferry and Johnny Cash's classic "Ring of Fire" (written by his wife June) to Loudon Wainwright III's idyllic "The Swimming Song" and Ian Tyson's "Someday Soon" (a '60s hit for Judy Collins). What's as surprising as the song choices is that Kaplansky makes so much of the material sound so much the same, as if she isn't as emotionally invested in it as she is in her own writing. An exception is her duet with Buddy Miller on "Somewhere Trouble Don't Go," written by Buddy's wife, Julie. Kaplansky receives stellar support from Larry Campbell (formerly with Bob Dylan) on slide and steel guitars, and harmonies from Jonatha Brooke, Eliza Gilkyson, and Richard Shindell. Yet "Today's the Day," a song about the death of Kaplansky's father, with minimal musical backing, is the most compelling performance here. --Don McLeese