For nearly two decades, Willie Watson has made modern folk music rooted in older traditions. He’s a folksinger in the classic sense: a singer, storyteller, and traveller, with a catalog of songs that bridge the gap between the past and present. On Folksinger Vol. 2, he acts as a modern interpreter of older songs, passing along his own version of the music that came long before him.
Southern gospel. Railroad songs. Delta blues. Irish fiddle tunes. Appalachian music. Folksinger Vol. 2 makes room for it all. Produced by David Rawlings, the album carries on a rich tradition in folk music: the sharing and swapping of old songs. Long ago, the 11 compositions that appear on Folksinger Vol. 2 were popularized by artists like Leadbelly, Reverend Gary Davis, Furry Lewis, and Bascom Lamar Lunsford. The songs don’t actually belong to those artists, though. They don’t belong to anyone. Instead, they’re part of the folk canon, passed from generation to generation by singers like Watson.
And what a singer he is. With a quick vibrato and rich range, he breathes new life into classic songs like “Samson and Delilah,” one of several songs featuring harmonies from gospel quartet the Fairfield Four. He’s a balladeer on “Gallows Pole,” whose melancholy melodies are echoed by the slow swells of a four-piece woodwind ensemble, and a bluesman on “When My Baby Left Me,” accompanying himself with sparse bursts of slide guitar. “Dry Bones” finds him crooning and hollering over a bouncing banjo, while “Take This Hammer” closes the album on a penitent note, with Watson singing to the heavens alongside a congregation of Sunday morning soul singers.
Anna Tivel has spent some quality hours in a dodge caravan repeating
lyrical lines over and over until the words fall in time with the
windshield wipers, or until the gas light comes on.An internationally
touring artist with a deep love of quiet stories, Anna is beginning to
carve a place for herself in the songwriting world. She was recently chosen
a winner of both the Telluride Troubadour Contest and the Kerrville New
Folk Contest, placed second at the Rocky Mountain songwriting contest, and
has shared the stage with heroes and friends like Gregory Alan Isakov,
Blind Pilot, Anais Mitchell, Mandolin Orange, Peter Mulvey, Caitlin Canty,
Sean Rowe, Darlingside, Devon Sproule, Jefferson Hamer, Jeffrey Martin, and
lots more.Anna was raised in the forest and farmland of rural northern
Washington and currently calls Portland, OR home. Her songs reflect both
the stark colors of small town life, and the hard, sharp lines of the city.
Her newest album, Small Believer, came out in September on Portland’s
well-loved Fluff & Gravy Records. Produced by guitar mastermind Austin
Nevins (Josh Ritter, Anais Mitchell, Kris Delmhort), Folk Radio UK called
the album “open, honest, and deeply affecting, her best work yet.” Her
previous album, Heroes Waking Up was hailed "a superb and sublime album
from a voice that deserves to be shouted from the highest
rooftops.” “Portland songwriter Anna Tivel is a favorite over at Hearth.
She’s a deft, clever songwriter with a knack for observing the small,
subtle beauties of our lives.” – Kithfolk"Everything here is testament to
her storytelling gifts (she’s been likened to Steinbeck and I suspect she
may have a novel or short stories collection in her) with her finely drawn
characters and observations of an emotional life that ranges from defiance
to regret, joy to sadness." -- Folk Radio UK