Folk music that avoids being worthy-but-dull.
The previous offering by Cahalen Morrison and Eli West, The Holy Coming of the Storm, was one of my top picks for 2010, a heartfelt and impeccably performed collection of acoustic tunes that reached its peak with the transcendent beauty of "Fleeting Like the Days". Their newest collaboration, Our Lady of the Tall Trees, sees them again in fine form, their twinned voices weaving together as the tunes are underpinned with dextrous fingerpicking. Guitar is the dominant acoustic accompaniment here, but bouzouki, mandolin and banjo are also in evidence.
There is no single standout track, a la "Fleeting Like the Days", but there are many fine songs, including the excellent opener, "Stone to Sand", and the banjo-accompanied "All I Can Do". There is also much mellowness to be found here, including the title track, which unfortunately threatens to slide into repetition and dullness. Results are better with "For the Sake of a Day" and the lovely, instrumental album-closer "Red Prairie Dawn". Fans of acoustic music, or of musicians who rely on talent and expression to make their mark (as opposed to studio trickery), are urged to give a listen. Too often, folk music is worthy but boring. These guys are anything but.