DREAMER: The Songs of Stephen Foster
Finally, a truly great and worthwhile tribute record.
Its something historical, something essentially American. Although he was the first American rock star, right down to his ultimately lethal alcoholic excesses, Stephen Fosters songs are everywhere in our culture and yet largely unheralded and little known. How can it be, for instance, that thered never been a tribute record to this seminal songwriting genius, when so many knuckleheads have been so recognized? Its interesting, and kudos to co-producers David Macias (whose idea it was) and Steve Fishell for putting the project together to fuel the efforts of American Roots Publishing. Tamara Saviano and her cohorts are already doing great things, and theyre just beginning.
Since all these songs were written before Lincoln was shot, for Gods sake, its amazing how vital they sound today, and how each of the superb artists have chosen to present them. Its so full and magnificent, for instance, that its uncanny that Raul Malos album-opening title cut is only him, producing himself on acoustic guitars and bass, and singing like a modern day Caruso. Hes outrageous.
On the other hand, two of my favorite soft singers shine like the first rays of a morning on still waters. Alison Krauss is featured on a cut of "Slumber My Darling," with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Mark OConnor. (The absolutely exquisite arrangement by bass phenomenon Edgar Meyer is from 2000, previously released on the Appalachian Journey CD. The seventeen other cuts were all recorded especially for this project.)
Judith Edelman does a breathtaking rendition of "No One to Love," its brilliant. Along with the opener, to me its the standout vocal track on the record. The interplay between her inspired piano arrangement and the guitar of her co-producer Gawain Matthews is great work.
The liner notes read that all the tracks were "Mastered by our Hero, Dave Sinko." A lot of people in Nashville or people from everywhere who have worked with Dave in Nashville feel the same way. There are a few engineers who are just way more than simply engineers. Many of these tracks were engineered and mixed by Dave at the Sound Emporium.
Ive singled out but a few of the surprising and compelling songs on this landmark record. There are many different kinds of beautiful arrangements and performances, but some of my favorites are the most simple and hand-hewn, like John Prines version of "My Old Kentucky Home, Goodnight" or Alvin Youngblood Harts take on "Nelly Was a Lady."
This record needs to be part of your collection. And youll feel good about yourself after you buy it, here. FG
beautiful dreamer pages at americanrootspublishing.org