Allison Crowe: New Video & Album Announcement!

I’m used to keeping secrets for Allison Crowe, but this one was especially difficult not to shout from the hills. I drove everyone (online & off) crazy with my enthusiastic love for Allison’s traditional folk album, Newfoundland Vinyl. So you can imagine how excited I was to learn she will release Newfoundland Vinyl II on December 2nd!!!! Ahhhh!!! And here’s the first taste of the album, a lyric video for the traditional folk song about the 1875 shipwreck of a vessel called “The Water Witch.”




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Allison Crowe Officia Site

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Rayna Gellert & Nathan Salsburg

By: Brendan

Nathan Salsburg worked with Rayna Gellert on arranging and performing traditional and original songs for her Old Light collection. You can stream and purchase selected tracks at Bandcamp and buy the full album at Amazon.

A curator of the Alan Lomax archive, Salsburg is doing great work in keeping traditional music alive. He was interviewed on this fascinating episode of WFPK After Dark, which features recordings from the archive. Salsburg also exhibited his talents on this NPR Tiny Desk Concert, and his debut album as a solo performer, Affirmed.

Bob Dylan: Pretty Saro

Editor’s Note: Coincidentally, Brendan had already prepared the following post about the folk song “Pretty Saro” before the news this week of the unearthed, previously unreleased (not even on bootleg) Bob Dylan version. Recorded in 1970 during the Self Portrait sessions, Dylan’s “Pretty Saro” will be featured on the new 35-track box set Another Self Portrait. The box set will be released on August 27th and features outtakes, demos and live versions of songs from Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait and New Morning. You can watch the video for Dylan’s recording of the song below.

By: Brendan

“Pretty Saro” is an old ballad that was featured in the movie Songcatcher, and the novel Revival. Listen to or purchase Sam Amidon’s performance below and Elizabeth Laprelle‘s version at Amazon.

As with many 19th century songs, lyric’s vary – here’s one version:

I came to this country in eighteen-forty-nine,
I saw many true loves but never saw mine.
I viewed all around me and I am alone,
And me a poor soldier and far from my home.

It’s not the long journey I’m dreading to go,
Nor leaving the country for the deads that I owe.
There is nothing that grieves me nor troubles my mind
Like leaving pretty Saro my darling behind.

I wish I was a poet and could write a fine hand,
I’d write my love a letter that she might understand.
I’d send it by the island where them waters overflow
I’d think on pretty Saro wherever I go.

Farewell, my dear father, likewise mother too,
I’m going for to ramble this country all through.
And when I get tired I’ll sit down and cry
And think on Pretty Saro with tears in my

Highlights from The Alan Lomax Archive

By: Brendan

The sheer amount of recordings available at the Alan Lomax archive can be daunting, so I thought I would highlight some of my favorite works here at Muruch

Liam Clancy:

Here‘s a collection featuring Liam Clancy and friends at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival. I particularly enjoyed the song “Shoals of Herring.” Clancy also wrote a wonderful autobiography, The Mountain of the Women: Memoirs of an Irish Troubadour.

Vera Ward

I’m willing to bet you’ve heard Vera Ward’s voice even though you may not know it. Her rendition of “Trouble So Hard” recorded by Alan Lomax in 1959 was heavily sampled by Moby for his song “Natural Blues.” Hear the remarkable original here.

Horton Barker

This was the first recording I heard from the Lomax Archive – I searched for ballads and was drawn to the “Irish” in the title. It’s a compelling document – you can hear Alan Lomax trying to coax the ending from Barker when his memory fails him in the final verses. You can sample or purchase a collection of Horton Barker’s performances at Smithsonian Folkways.

John Quincy Wolf Jr. recorded another version of this song in Arkansas 1963. So we get the rest of the story, thanks to the Wolf Collection at Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas.

And I love Mr. and Mrs. Berry Sutterfield. Here‘s their version of “Barbrara Allen,” complete with light bickering and confusion.

Allison Crowe: Newfoundland Vinyl

Muruch‘s long-time musical mascot Allison Crowe just released her new album, Newfoundland Vinyl. The album was originally created during a theatrical production for which Allison was the Musical Director and intended to represent 200 years of music popular in Newfoundland, yet its true scope is so much broader. It plays like a lovely, vintage collection of traditional Irish and Canadian folk ballads, lively sea chanteys and drinking songs, parlour songs and country tunes with surprising retro, girl-pop harmonies woven throughout. The album is full of dazzling melody and such a unique charm. And Allison’s voice is so strong and spectacular, I’m afraid Foxygen has fierce competition here for my favorite album of the year.

It’s appropriate that Newfoundland Vinyl is Allison’s first vinyl LP, as a more classic album has rarely been recorded. The limited edition, 180-gram vinyl LP is currently only being stocked at select locations in Canada, but is available worldwide in digital format through all the usual online outlets. That is how I’m listening for this review, as I just couldn’t wait for the vinyl to arrive. What an exquisite, unusual collection. What a voice, what a voice, what a voice!

Allison released Newfoundland Vinyl on her own independent label, Rubenesque Records. I’m starting to think Allison Crowe’s DIY folk style is Canada’s answer to Ani Difranco, or perhaps more accurately Anaïs Mitchell since the theater-to-album story of Newfoundland Vinyl is very similar to that of Hadestown. But I digress.

Allison also arranged, produced, engineered and performed the entire album herself — including all of the intricately layered harmonies in which her singular, extraordinary voice mimics a backing choir of singers. I was truly shocked to learn that bit of information, as it sounds as if she has several different singers accompanying her.

The opener “Black Velvet Band” and “The Men Who Die For a Living” are among my favorite tracks.

“The Black Velvet Band” is a traditional Irish ballad about a man’s chance encounter with a girl, which leads to his arrest and transport as a prisoner to Australia. The Dubliners may have recorded one of the more famous renditions of the song, but Allison’s is the most stunning version I’ve heard and just may become the definitive version (as her cover of “Hallelujah” has) over time.

“The Men Who Die For a Living” is a haunting ode to miners and their families that is universally powerful — whether you live in the mining territories of Newfoundland, Appalachia or elsewhere.

“Easy,” which plumbs the depths of Allison’s voice, has a more mellow, classic pop-folk sound and was a 1979 country hit for Canadian singer Eddie Eastman, so it’s a perfect fit for the album’s vinyl theme.

Also of note is the fun, funny, rollicking drinking song “Skipper Billy’s Wake.” It’s one of the more uptempo and humorous songs on the album.

The lilting finale “Sweet Forget Me Not” is another splendid showcase of the album’s pretty, multi-layered harmonies.

This is one of those gorgeous albums that you love more with every single listen and I never thought Allison could make an album that I would love more than 2007’s Live at Wood Hall, but indeed she has.

Newfoundland Vinyl is my new favorite Allison Crowe album, possibly my favorite album of the year and just may be on its way to becoming one of my favorite albums of all time. It has the timeless beauty of a classic folk album.

Buy @ Amazon

Buy @ Amazon.co.uk

Buy @ CDBaby

Allison Crowe Official Site

Muruch’s Allison Crowe Posts

Don’t forget to enter our Allison Crowe giveaway! You could win a copy of her new album, Newfoundland Vinyl, on vinyl LP and mp3.