Call it a paradox, but it turns out sometimes that even the best songwriters do some of their most interesting work when they set their own muse aside and go back to their roots. Such is the case with this new release from acclaimed folksinger and songwriter Greg Brown, whose work over the years has often been a source for country artists. His song "The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home" has been covered on record and stage by countless country and bluegrass bands.
With only a couple of exceptions, all dozen songs on the album are among the traditional tunes that were part of Brown's own musical "raising." Brown's deep growl is in fine form, and the presence of former Blue Grass Boy Bob Black on banjo and Al Murphy on fiddle goes a long way toward maintaining the traditional feel to highlight tracks like "I Never Will Marry," "The Foggy, Foggy Dew," "Railroad Bill" and "I Believe I'll Go Back Home," with the added treat of occasional harmony backing from Brown's wife, Iris DeMent. It's early yet, but this rates as an early leader among the best of 2004.