The music, history, and legacy of The Carter Family - A.P. (Alvin Pleasant), Sara and Maybelle - is in no danger of being forgotten even as country music continually evolves from its traditional, acoustic and rural roots. Among the most significant recording artists America has produced, The Carter Family are here given another tribute treatment, one pleasingly reminiscent of the spirit of those original recordings produced beginning nearly 90 years ago.
Antique Persuasion is the unlikely trio of bluegrass front man Brandon Rickman (Lonesome River Band), independent Austin stalwart Brennan Leigh and Jenee Fleenor from Blake Shelton's band. Mark Fain provides upright bass. Playing and singing around a single mic, each of the principals takes lead vocals while the others join in on harmony.
The dozen resulting performances bring timeless songs into contemporary circumstance without neglecting or respecting the well-established approaches that have assured these numbers their place within the genre. "Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow," surely not coincidently the first song the Carter Family recorded in Bristol, Tenn. in 1927, opens the album with the trio harmonizing; Rickman takes the lead, his sweetly masculine voice possessing the depth the song demands. Fleener's aching "Tonight I'm Thinking of My Blue Eyes" strays from the expected arrangement - slowing it down and stretching it out - but by taking such a refreshing approach she invigorates the familiar, plaintive song.
Fleener and Rickman share the spirited "Lonesome For You," while Leigh's lovely, and, dare it be suggested, playful, "On the Sea of Galilee" reveals a different type of faith. Fleener and Leigh absolutely tear up "Hello Stranger" and Rickman's "Lover's Return" is a treat.
While these are not songs of good or jubilant times, they have become standards because of the honesty of the emotions they convey. We've all been the lamentable "Broken Hearted Lover" The Carter Family sang about it 1931, we've figuratively or literally experienced "Dark and Stormy Weather" and reveled in the promise that "You're Gonna Be Sorry 'cause You Let Me Down." Across generations, these songs connect.
With straightforward accompaniment - acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and bass -Antique Persuasion demonstrate that there is much to be gleaned performing timeless music in the manner intended.