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Revenants, Prodigies & the Restless Dead

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Avis sur l’album

If the revival of interest in "old-sounding" folk in the 21st century has been gratifying on the one hand, on the other — as with any trend — there's an explosion of releases that range from the exquisite to the uninspired. C Joynes' 2009 album falls into the middle range for the most part — it's enjoyable but a bit lost in a sea of releases exploring similar veins. Its best moments rely less on striking new developments in the form than on elegant restatements of mood and approach by Joynes and a number of collaborators throughout — thus the opening "Pretty Little Divorcee," a traditional song based on an arrangement by the Late Risers that's simple enough as a melody but given a soft, melancholic undertow. Moments like the softly spooked-out "Joynes, NC," with the addition of theremin adding a still-futuristic edge, and the lovely simplicity of "Skip James on ‘The Triumph of Death'" — despite the title, not a James remake — also exhibit Joynes' skill as well as his relative formalism. Inevitable echoes of earlier figures such as John Fahey (especially on "Nyambai Sawmill," which feels like a track of his not just in the title) and Robbie Basho crop up, not to mention newer performers — Alasdair Roberts is thanked in the liner notes, as is Will Oldham — but there's less emphasis on experimentation and more on playing things reasonably straight, but always reasonably well. A notable exception can be heard on the clattering start of "Bones for Dogs," where what sounds like a roughly tuned autoharp provides backing stomp for the calmer lead performance.

Revenants, Prodigies & the Restless Dead, C Joynes
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