Welcome to the Low Country
(Nowrecordings, 2003)

The music of The-Low-Country is essentially American although the group is made up of an Australian (Emily Barker, singer, songwriter, guitar, banjo), a German (Anja Dove, violin) and two Brits. Rob Jackson plays electric, acoustic and bass guitars and mandolin while Alex Machell plays bass. The group was formed in the university city of Cambridge, England, but Emily divides her time between England and Australia.

The album is filled with ballads done in a folk-country style that is essentially acoustic, although the inclusion of a violin and electric guitar means that it's not pure acoustic music. The most obvious comparison is with Lucinda Williams. Indeed, The-Low-Country actually recorded a cover of her "Lake Charles," although it is not included on this album.

Brilliant as the musicians are, it is inevitable on an album such as this that the focus is on the singer. In fact, the opening track is a fine instrumental but it is really only a warm-up for what follows -- a showcase for Emily's enchanting vocals. Apart from "Oh Susanna" (one of the finest covers of this classic song) and "O Death," Emily wrote all the songs and, judging by the emotion she puts into the songs, I suspect that many of them are based on events in her own life. This is particularly evident on "Home" (a song about going home after a long absence) and "Acres Roan" (a song about drought in Australia).

If you enjoy roots music but you are looking for something that is a little different from what you usually hear, this is for you.

- Rambles
written by Peter D. Harris
published 10 January 2004