South Of Delia by Richard Shindell
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Though folksinger Richard Shindell writes most of his own material, here he puts his conceptual and interpretive stamp on a wide range of songs by others. His rendition of "Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)" transforms that Dylan obscurity into one of the better Dylan covers, highlighted by Shindell's otherworldly slide guitar. That song finds a thematic partner in "Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)," by Dylan's earliest major influence, Woody Guthrie. From Robbie Robertson's "Acadian Driftwood" and A.P. Carter's "The Storms Are on the Ocean" to a mandolin-driven rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." and Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street" (the only cover that doesn't really work, as it strains the upper register of Shindell's craggy baritone), the material has a strong sense of place and displacement. (As the artist suggests in his brief notes, every one of these songs has a narrator who may be quite distinct from the songwriter.) Among those providing superb support are guitarist Richard Thompson (on two cuts), bassist Viktor Krauss, former Dylan sideman Larry Campbell (on electric and steel guitars), and Lucy Kaplansky and Eliza Gilkyson on harmonies. --Don McLeese