For five decades, John McCutcheon has permeated the global folk scene with his stunning work as a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and music archivist. Like many artists, the height of the COVID pandemic was an opportunity to stay at home and write. Now, Leap! marks the third full album McCutcheon has been dropping since the pandemic’s start. He reflects, “These are not songs about the pandemic; they are songs because of the pandemic.”
Fittingly for McCutcheon, the album travels—from Appalachia to Belfast, to a New York subway and an out-there steel mill. His inviting vocals travel with him, accentuating his stories with a storyteller’s baritone and a winning collective of notable instrumentalists. Award-winning fiddler Stuart Duncan prominently features on “The Ride”, bringing a sprightful melody to this uplifting tune. McCutcheon vocally soars against its inspiriting chorus. Altogether, it’s a musical take on a hopeful diving-in-headfirst into a new challenge or towards a new goal.
McCutcheon tells PopMatters, “‘The Ride’ began on a treadmill. I was listening to my favorite radio show, On Being, hosted by my pal, Krista Tippett. I’ve probably written a dozen songs over the years inspired by her brilliant conversations with poets, theologians, physicists, etc. I can’t even remember who her guest was, but the gist of their thinking was there is a moment of decision and a corresponding moment when the results of such decisions become clear. In between, it’s time to simply ‘enjoy the ride’, as full commitment to the act is what the decision is based on. Like most folks, I’ve often faltered in that interim. So, this song became a kind of manifesto, a promise to myself, to others, to go, to live, to be ‘all in’. ‘If you ain’t livin’, then you’re dyin’!”
“The Ride” will release on 22nd July with Leap! due out on 2nd September.