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John Hartford

Good Old Boys – 1999 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by John Hartford

Long considered a national musical treasure for his championing of traditional old-time music, John Hartford has written his fair share of classics, too. His best known composition, "Gentle On My Mind," was a big hit for Glen Campbell.

The breezy locomotion of that tune is echoed faintly in the title track to this collection of all new originals, and Hartford is so obviously at ease with the material and his fellow players that it takes a lot less than the song's 6 1/2 minutes for the listener to be drawn in. The centerpiece is another long, winding number, "The Cross-Eyed Child." half storytelling, half singing, Hartford relates the rise of Bill Monroe from his own personal contact with the legendary father of bluegrass.

The rest of the songs are shorter, but not in a hurry to get anywhere, thank goodness. Hartford and his band make these new tunes sound old and lived - in, a comfortable fit for any ears.