Norman and Nancy Blake

Back Home In Sulphur Springs – 2006 (Plectrafone/Dualtone)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Norman and Nancy Blake

For longtime fans of master guitarist Norman Blake, the title of thisnew collection - and it is a new collection - is bound to cause a bit of confusion. Among his earliest releases on the then new Rounder label in 1972, prior to his meeting and marrying Nancy Short was "Home In Sulphur Springs," subsequently reissued on CD in 1995 as "Back Home In Sulphur Springs." Although this new disc carries the same title, the recordings are all new, including a different rendition of "The Girl I Left In Sunny Tennessee," which Norman recorded previously on another early Rounder disc.

Though Norman has long been recognized for his songwriting as well as his flatpicking and vocal talents, there are only two Blake originals here, the title track and "Seaboard Airline Rag." Most of the 14 cuts are traditional fare like "Columbus Stockade Blues," "Katy Cline" and "More Good Women Gone Wrong."

From top to bottom, the disc resonates with the mellow, understated style that has long characterized the work Norman and Nancy have done together. Perhaps the most surprising piece, though, is Nancy's mandolin rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" that reminds us it is, after all, an old folk melody.