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Erik Darling

Erik Darling

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Album Review

Erik Darling was one of the most versatile performers to come out of the folk revival, a great picker of banjo, guitar, and 12-string guitar, adept at folk, blues, bluegrass, jazz, and pop, as his success with the Rooftop Singers proved. This is his first solo album, a showcase of the talents he brought to the Tarriers (one of the first folk groups to crack the pop charts) and the Weavers. He also possessed a distinct voice, a high tenor with a fragile, tremulous quality that made his singing instantly recognizable. Darling was also an in-demand session player for folk sessions, and this album shows why. His arranging, playing, and singing bring a pop sensibility to the music, without making it overly glossy. "Cumberland Mountain Bear Chase" is a cinematic tale of a boy on his first hunting trip, with Darling's banjo sounding like a river, running dogs, and a hunting horn. "Oh, What a Beautiful City" is a spiritual that Darling later sang with the Weavers, an uplifting tune with jazzy syncopated guitar picking. "Paul and Silas" is another spiritual, this one mournful and full of intimations of mortality, with a keening vocal to complement the simple rolling guitar line. "Salty Dog" is a ragtime blues in the style of Rev. Gary Davis. "In the Evening" is a banjo blues, with subdued strumming to complement Darling's dramatic singing, which alternates between quiet whispers and angry shouts. "Aboline," a song by Chicago folkie Bob Gibson, later became a country hit for George Hamilton IV. Darling gives it the same bluesy, country feel that Hamilton used on his hit version. The only clunker here is his cutesy version of "Candy Man," where he affects a childish voice for no apparent reason, especially disconcerting on a song that's so sexual in nature. ~ j. poet, All Music Guide


Born: 25 September 1933 in Baltimore, MD

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Erik Darling's graceful sense of style and clearheaded arrangements of traditional folk tunes made the singer, songwriter, and versatile instrumentalist a behind-the-scenes innovator on the folk scene for decades, and if he never actually became a household name, his influence was subtle and pervasive. Born September 25, 1933, in Baltimore, MD, Darling actually spent his childhood in Canandaigua, NY, and by the time he was in his early twenties, he was a regular fixture in New York City's Washington...
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Erik Darling, Erik Darling
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