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Ramblin' Jack Elliott

The Long Ride – 1999 (HighTone)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Ramblin' Jack Elliott

Ramblin' Jack Elliot, with his shaky yet sure voice, has been telling stories for longer than some of us have been alive, and with this, his story trail continues undeterred. The song selection supports the idea that a great story is a great story - no matter how old or young it is.

If that were not true, than why does Elliott sound equally convincing on a new Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan song "Pony" and the Stones' "Connection," as he does on so many of these public domain numbers? Elliott again has a few admirers here along for the ride. Tom Russell provides comic accompaniment on the cowboy song "Cup of Coffee." Maria Muldaur pitches in an empathetic vocal on the meditative "Picture From Life's Other Side." With the character-driven song "Diamond Joe," Elliott's fragile voice breaks in a few places. But instead of being a distraction, this little flaw actually gives more weight to the words he's singing.

Only a few are left along that lonesome trail Elliott travels, but we should all be thankful he's still around to be our tour guide.