Sud de la Louisiane
The Foghorn Trio have been cited as a significant player on the US folk and old-time music circuit. The release of Sud de la Louisiane coincides with a tour of UK and Ireland and has the pseudo-Appalachian feel that has become synonymous with the group. The album finds them playing a variety of old time-Americana material with respect, energy and a vibrancy that flies in the face of those who may choose to question the relevance of this particular brand of music in the modern era.
The Foghorn Trio tread the hot, dusty musical back roads of the South previously visited in Lomax’s field recordings and the Harry Smith Folk Anthology and they do it very well. The Carter Family walk close – both literally and metaphorically; “Hello Central” and “Let’s Be Lovers Again” are entertaining interpretations of the original staples and the trio have a respectful approach to such traditional material.
The album’s opener is a frantic, high-energy romp through the Bill and Mary Reid number “I Want To Be Loved (But Only By You)” and very much sets the tone for what’s to follow. The instrumental track “Gentleman from Virginia” showcases fiddle-playing dexterity that frequently crops up later, while the standout song – an excellent cover of Kitty Wells’ “I Don’t Claim to be an Angel,’ features magnificent, heart-felt harmonies.
Essentially, this is what it is: old-time music played very well. Within this ostensibly restrictive genre it would be logical to assume that there is little scope for new ideas. It is therefore refreshing to note that Sud de la Louisiane features two originals by band member Caleb Klauder. It would be easy to label “Just a Little” and the instrumental “Puttin’ up the Wood” as pastiche butthey are authentic and convincing enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the material on offer rather than merely exist in its shadow.
In a pre-O Brother, Where Art Thou? world this music would have been labelled niche. These days it’s far more familiar but, that said, it’s still pretty niche. While there are flavours here to whet varied musical appetites, much of this album serves as a reminder that old-time music more often than not remains an acquired taste.
Click here for Foghorn Trio tour dates.