Folksinger Pamela Wyn Shannon hails the onset of autumn with traditionally-rooted compositions that are burnished like apples, flickering like firelight and rustling like fallen leaves.
The first time I listened to Courting Autumn all the way through, I happened to be raking the lawn. It hit me, about midway, that nearly every song on this delicately shaped, luminously lovely album had some sort of reference to leaves. I'd drag the rake over the grass, and hear Wyn Shannon murmur "the season's leaf/is gold and red". I'd pile the colorful mess up onto the tarp and she would observe, "I pull the leaves from my tangled hair/the gusty windstorm had blown them there". Laboriously, I'd drag them into the woods, and there would be Wyn Shannon right with me, whispering about "The falling acorn/the bent leaf erodes/the wet mossy bark". "Enough with the bloody leaves," I might have muttered, once, but really, this was quite a calming accompaniment, artfully arranged with Wyn Shannon's picked guitars, hints of string, trembling shepherdy flutes. Even the otherworldly cuts, like standout "Netherworld" had a grounding in crisp, blustery autumn, its plucks and bends rough as twigs, its surges of strings as melancholy as October winds. The leaves stand in as a metaphor for mortality, the passage of time, the fading of love, and yet, they are also leaves, described with the exactness and specificity that only country people can muster. That made sense since Wyn Shannon is almost a neighbor, making her home in Amherst, Ma. and recording just down the road in Brattleboro and Putney. She's probably done some raking herself this month, perhaps with the very same tunes keeping her company, on the iPod, as the short days fade.