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Kronos Quartet Kronos Quartet
Album: Folk Songs
Label: Nonesuch
Tracks: 9

I first heard this album way back in May. There was a quality, I knew was worth some understanding. Yet in the gearing up to summer it seemed discordant. Then as time does, it got busy and this was put aside, fortuitously. Coming back to this again in quieter months of new winter. Its vast beauty seems unending. The light seems right for this kind of music.

There is a complex story of labelmates and a fiftieth anniversary for Nonesuch Records. Look into it if you're interested. More importantly than slaps on the back, music of this quality is of such a lushness that all other factors are reduced to footnotes.

It takes time to take in this record. Not a common currency. But worth your while if you can take the time. 'Oh Where' sung by Amidon pushes the door open. At first glance, it can appear soporific, but that’s a foolish fast first look. Trust in your stereo, and try it on cold afternoons or evenings. Lone dog walks within a frost. There is a seasonal taste to this album. That is as rich and as delicate as winter skin. It's a thing of beauty.

Giddens is a voice that if it doesn't stop you in your tracks, you need to give yourself a good looking over. Sweet as a bell hard as a hammer. All the sweetness and bitterness of the human heart consumed and concentrated down into song. 'Factory Girl' is all Giddens.

'I See the Sign' hits like reflection on top of a high peak. Seems to know something you know, and maybe a little more. Can make you look at what's passing and see some beauty in what you might have not caught. It catches what's in the corners of whatever landscape you're looking at when listening.

Hello Costume drama. In walks Natalie Merchant. Just when you might think you've got this album figured. She's a regal lament, gilding every coarse edge of the well-known ballad 'Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier' with a soft gold and the kindness of valiant dew.

It’s not an album to put in your coffee. But it's a lush experience full of unexpected comfort. There's a fireside spark that runs a thread throughout. It feels like a well told tale underneath an inglenook. Something passed by hand.

Alex Golisti