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Back Home In Sulphur Springs

Norman & Nancy Blake

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Album Review

Norman Blake had been a prominent performer and studio guitarist for over a decade before this solo debut was recorded, and although he had largely made his name playing backup to bigger stars, this is the first of a long string of albums that confirmed Blake's reputation as a master guitarist and songwriter. Joined by dobroist Tut Taylor, who had played with Blake on John Hartford's Aereo-Plain earlier in the year, the two run through a delightful mix of old-time songs and Blake originals, many of which show the progressive characteristics that would lead the guitarist to form the Rising Fawn String Ensemble to play what was called "hillbilly baroque." Although he only got better over time, this record is among Blake's best, demonstrating his nearly incomparable virtuosity, easygoing style, and broad repertoire, highlighted by "Cattle in the Cane," "Crossing No. 9," and the lovely closer "Spanish Fandango," which according to the notes is the first song he ever learned to play.

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