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C. Joynes

Congo

(Bo Weavil; US: 6 Dec 2011; UK: 24 Nov 2011)

Brit multi-instrumentalist folkster C. Joynes has released an intriguing, all-instrumental album in Congo, one that reinterprets various sonic textures in the trad-folk canon. Opening track “The Linden Tree” sounds a lot like the English traditional folk-guitar picking of, say, John Renbourn. “Joseph in the Sea of Corn” follows trad template as well, with its banjo plucking and lilting penny whistle. Things get more unpredictable with later tracks like “Ghosts of the Field,” with its discordant elements and meandering—at times nonexistent—time signature, or the folk-inflected yet difficult-to-categorize “And the Moon Was Full and Round.”


It’s an open question whether this album is a compelling listen, for all its sonic variety and unwillingness to fit into expected categories. The lack of vocals places the onus squarely upon the instrumental performances to carry the listener, and while some of the tunes are memorable enough, the less-is-more approach that dominates the record gets strained over the course of an entire album. Still, listeners seeking a set of well-performed acoustic music—and perhaps a bit of experimentation—will find much to like here.

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DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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