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Theo Angell

Dearly Beloved

(Amish; US: 30 May 2006; UK: Available as import)

Radiantly skewed blues folk

A dispatch from the wilder, more primitive end of the free folk spectrum, this excellent disc showcases the Hall of Fame founder’s deep roots in folk, blues and spiritual music. “Cannonball” is all whoop and holler and banjo picking, a headlong rush through some alternate universe hootenanny, while “Praise Mighty” has the stately triumph of a successful tent revival. It’s “Sheost”, though, that best transports Angell from the modern day, its layered harmonies and insistent rhythms invoking field blues, whistling trains and mournful African drone. Things take a more modern turn as the album progresses, with the eerie plucked precision of “Price of Prince,” and the very Zep III (and wonderful) “Thread of Grace.” Angell gets assistance from ex-Hall of Fame partner Dan Brown, as well as a cameo from kraut rock experimenters Metabolismus in “Born to Burn”. Luminous production highlights the heartfelt melancholy of these songs, strategically placed echo and hiss suggesting distance, loss and memory.

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