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Journey Home

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Album Review

Journey Home, Bill Staines' 24th record and first in four years, is a concept album, but the concept is one that needs explaining, especially to anyone who hasn't been following Staines through the five decades of his career. Listened to without that explanation, Journey Home comes off as a collection of traditional folk songs and covers of folk songs written by others plus a few new Staines originals, with certain recurring subjects. In particular, Staines is interested in hoboes (or "ramblers," anyway), who make appearances in "Rompin' Rovin' Days," "Hobo's Lullaby," and "The Piney Wood Hills," and in horses, which turn up in "Stewball," "A Rancher Turns 80/The Years," and "Prairie in the Sky," and he displays a sense of spirituality, especially as regards old age, death, and the hereafter, in "Journey Home," "Bound for the Promised Land," and "How Can I Keep From Singing." Staines fans will find these subject familiar and may realize, even before reading the singer's "few notes" in the CD booklet that the concept of Journey Home is a kind of personal retrospective for a musician who got his start in folk clubs in Boston singing traditional material; came into contact with fellow performers who were songwriters, either local ones like Bruce Murdoch ("Rompin' Rovin' Days") and Paul MacNeil ("Love Was Easy") or nationally known ones like Buffy Sainte-Marie ("The Piney Wood Hills"); then spent his career traveling around the country, encountering other writers such as Mary McCaslin ("Prairie in the Sky") while developing a special affinity for cowboys and the Western life ("A Rancher Turns 80/The Years"). Journey Home recalls all this in song and brings Staines' life full circle. It allows him to pull back from writing his own songs for the most part, but still tell a personal story through the songs of others. On the three songs he does write (and a few he didn't), he takes an elegiac tone, which makes the album seem like an attempt to sum things up, and one can only hope that this is not, as he puts it, "my last passage."


Born: 06 February 1947 in Medford, MA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

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

The American landscape has been a major theme for New Hampshire-based singer/songwriter Bill Staines. His songs have captured the beauty of rivers, mountains, and the open space of the American West. Staines' ability to write songs that seem like traditional folk songs has made him a favorite source of new material. His original tunes, including "The Roseville Fair," "River," "Wild, Wild Heart," "Yellowstone Winds," and "A Place in the Choir (All God's Critters)," have...
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Journey Home, Bill Staines
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