320 kbps | 103 MB | LINKS
The memorably named North Carolina-dweller Jake Xerxes Fussell doesn’t release originals – he is a folklorist dedicated to preserving rural music and work songs. Unlike Alan Lomax, who famously recorded American folk and blues with his father in the 20th century, Fussell sings the works he collects. Out of Sight is his third album of mellifluously upcycled cuts. He is now joined by a band – including pedal steel, violin and organ – who make easy-going, back-porch fare out of disparate tunes sourced from as far apart as Florida and Ireland.
It’s no criticism, however, because these engaging songs live anew, and this record, often about struggle, flows by with cogent musical warmth. “He’d take the nickels off a dead man’s eyes,” runs a line about a mill foreman on Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues, previously repopularised by Pete Seeger. A dancing tune, Jubilee, is delivered with wry bittersweetness. What really elevates Fussell’s record over and above worthy traditionalism, though, is its edge: Fussell is alive to the fantastical edge to a fishmonger’s sales pitch, the extraordinariness of these ordinary songs. Subtle left-field touches take these pieces somewhere special, not least the instrumental 16-20.