[24 February 2008]
Although Brian Dewan’s recent album is comprised of 16 cover songs only two of these can be attributed to specific songwriters. This is because Dewan excavated traditional folk tunes which embody a lost American art form. The songs—discovered on dusty old records and sheet music—are mostly written by unknown artists and recreated meticulously by this multi-talented musician. Keeping to the traditional approach, Dewan uses instruments such as the autoharp and accordion. He doesn’t stray far from the original song structures—displaying a poetic, storytelling quality. The only problem with Dewan’s effort is that his ancient ballads may only be recognizable by hardcore archivists and enjoyed only by traditional folk enthusiasts. The rest of us may find this effort a bit stagnant, with its preachy, old-timey lyrics and repetitive song structures.