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REVIEWS OF "Blues & Branches"

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SING OUT MAGAZINE Issue #53

2010

One of America's most accomplished and versatile acoustic musicians, multi-instrumentalist Reid's music creatively spans the categories of folk, blues, bluegrass, Celtic, gospel, country, ragtime and what-have-you. All the while, Reid sounds instantly ageless, which is no mean feat in my book. His 1995 recording of six and 12-string banjo material famously attracted the attention of the likes of Doc Watson and Bela Fleck, while his 2003 autoharp album became an instant classic.


Here, Reid proffers the bluesier side of his muse with seven originals and another seven deft arrangements of traditional songs. Favorites are the 12-string guitar framed, bootlegger narrative "Raleigh and Spencer," a vigorously variant rendition of the barroom blues chestnut "St James Infirmary" and the Blind Lemon Jefferson-identified, slide-guitar-assisted, deathbed plea "One Kind Favor" – along with a wrenching cover of Tom T. Hall's 1971 hit "The Year That Clayton Delaney Died" and a marvelously glib version of Richard Goldman's twisted Mose-Allison-like "Try Mine."


Three of Reid's originals are instrumentals. He picks up his slide again and reveals his fingerpicking prowess on both a feisty "Pork Chop Slap" and the elegantly laid-back "Sly Damsel Serenade," while an atmospheric "Fool Me Twice Blues" displays some strikingly dramatic six-string banjo work. Other strong Reid compositions are the unabashedly autobiographical "From Where I Stand" (with old friend and ace fiddler Joyce Andersen sharing the passionate vocal), an autoharp-bright "Fishing Pond Blues" and a darkly poetic, lap-steel driven elegy for Marilyn Monroe titled "Hollywood."


After a lifetime of music, nearly 30 years of recording and more than 25 releases, Reid, who is singing and writing better than ever, definitely hasn't lost his unmatched command of a wide array of instruments. Recommended.

 

WPRB Radio Princeton NJ

John Weingart

2009

“the album gives me answers to two questions I have been asked from time to time: Which Harvey Reid album would you suggest I buy and, more generally, if you had to pick one album to introduce someone to the vibrancy and scope of folk music in the early 21st century, what would it be?”