Reviews

Suzy Bogguss
Album: American Folk Songbook (And Book)
Label: Loyal Dutchess
Tracks: 17
Website: www.suzybogguss.com

When I took my first faltering steps into the world of ‘folk’ music my music teacher presented me with a book of American folk songs edited by Alan Lomax. That memory is once again evoked by this glorious collection of songs and what better way than to reminisce than with Suzy Bogguss.

It sounds very much as if Ms Bogguss and I travelled the same road for isn’t it best that in the first instance you should ‘enjoy’ what you’re performing and if possible invite everybody in who’ll listen? If that is the case then this comes across in a presentation that is simple yet effective utilising amongst others the skills of musicians including Jerry Douglas (dobro), Stuart Duncan (fiddle & mandolin) and John McCutcheon on hammer dulcimer. Along with long time associate Pat Bergeson on guitar Suzy’s lyrical style is all encompassing with an easy going approach that will appeal to anyone who feels a kinship with predominantly traditional ‘folk’ music.

Opening with the unrequited love song “Shady Grove” of which the melody in the UK is more recognisable as that employed by Fairport for “Matty Groves” (but nowhere near so gory) the catalogue of 17 tracks reads like a top of the pops list of those we have loved. “Shenandoah”, “Red River Valley” and Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer” are all treated with dignity never allowing the arrangement to become indulgent thereby giving an honest, orderly representation of the chosen material.

The hardback book is well laid out with piano accompaniment and guitar chords and Suzy’s informative notes make for interesting reading but not (thankfully) in a scholarly way. This project was obviously put together by someone who wants to convey the message that ‘folk’ music is good for the soul and if you’ll allow it you too can become an advocate.

If the CD and book get the kudos they deserve I hope it won’t be too long before another recording is in the offing – perhaps with “The Titanic” and “Jesse James” amongst them?

Pete Fyfe