Wolfe Bros.,
Old Roads &
New Journeys

(Copper Creek, 2004)

There is a product on sale in Ireland whose advertising slogan is that "it does exactly what it says on the tin." The same slogan could be used on this album. Old roads are certainly travelled but the Wolfe Bros. -- who do not appear to be brothers -- definitely make new journeys along the routes chosen.

For the less philosophically minded, they take old tunes and make them new without losing the eternal spirit of the genre. From "Diamond Joe," the challenge is taken up and they make an old traditional song as fresh in 2004 as it must have been when first written.

Their choice of material is uncanny. I loved the humorous tale of the "Democratic Donkey." You cannot beat an old waltz to get one's attention, and this group certainly know how to do it taking a beautiful old tune and adding lyrics referring to the tune. This is the waltz version of "St Anne's Reel."

Donna sings the hymn "When I Can Read My Titles Clear" with great feeling and clarity. They move from the moving to the comic seamlessly as they do their stuff on Jimmy Driftwood's "I'm Too Young to Marry."

One of the joys of this CD is the diversity of music and also the gems unearthed. The fiddle tune "White River" from the Ozark region has the feel of mountains, trees and water deep within it.

The short notation on the tracks adds greatly to ones enjoyment. For instance, "On the Other Side of the Mountain" is a beautiful song about leaving home, but the very fact that it appears to have been learned from an old friend who learned it from his Uncle Henry just adds another layer to it. This is traditional music handed down as it should be.

The name "Jedediah" is music in itself but the track of that name about Jedediah Smith is one of my favourites with its fantastic storyline.

If you have even a slight interests in either bluegrass or history, buy this album. Hey, even if it's just good music well played that you like, buy it, you will not be disappointed.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 6 November 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.