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Various Artists

Come to the Mountain: Old Time Music for Modern Times – 2005 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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"Come to the Mountain" capitalizes on latter day revivalists who understand the sweet melancholy and off-hand brutality of the song's lyrics, but who play with far more instrumental flair. Naturally, at the top of the list is Rounder's greatest star Alison Krauss, whose tender New Age approach informs both her spiritual solo offering ("There is a Reason") and achingly romantic duet with Ron Block ("Your Heart Has Found a Home"). On the same sonic wavelength are Jones & Leva ("A Sweet Goodbye"), and Rory Block & Lee Berg ("Long Journey"), whose yearning harmonies bleed old soul from a newer aesthetic.

Most acts exhibit a rawer traditional sound la Putnam County Band ("Black Jack Davey") and Dirk Powell ("Hop High My Lulu Gal"). Equally fine are Dry Branch Fire Squad's anti-Civil War ballad ("Walking Back to Richmond") and Fiddle Fever's poignant instrumental ("Askokan Farewell"), which some will recognize from Ken Burns' documentary.

But the true standouts are Lynn Morris, who combines spirituality with honky tonk heart ache ("Help Me Climb That Mountain") and Woodshed All-Stars vocalist Marie Burns ("River of Sorrow"), who brings modern panache to her fatalistic romantic pleas ("Willow").