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The Crossing

Tim O'Brien

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Album Review

It might be a cliché to say that to understand where you are and where you're going, you must know where you've been, but it's a very accurate cliché — especially when it comes to music. If you're going to have a thorough understanding of the history of country, bluegrass, and Anglo-American folk, it's important to have some knowledge of the music that paved the way for those forms — namely, the music that immigrants from the British Isles brought with them to the U.S. On The Crossing, singer/instrumentalist Tim O'Brien does a fine job reminding listeners how great a role Celtic music played in the development of Anglo-American styles. As a vocalist, O'Brien shows how Irish and Scottish ballad traditions have influenced American folk and country, and as an instrumentalist, O'Brien (who plays fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and other instruments) shows how the jigs and reels of Ireland and Scotland paved the way for Appalachian bluegrass. A fine storyteller, he describes the experiences of Irish immigrants to the U.S. on gems like "The Crossing" and "Lost Little Children" — and on the humorous, Bob Dylan-influenced "Talkin' Cavan," O'Brien (himself an Irish-American from West Virginia) recalls traveling to Ireland in 1998 to visit the land of his ancestors. This CD is not to be missed.

Customer Reviews

a turning point

I discovered Tim O'Brien with "Songs from the Mountain," a razor perfect CD of Old-Time music inspired by the Charles Frazier novel, Cold Mountain. His voice and his sense of time changed the way I thought about traditional music, how it could sound so present, so right now. My girlfriend at the time was working for Alula Records and gave me a copy of The Crossing before it came out. The "hook" to the record was that it was a re-connecting of Celtic and American mountain music, and it absolutely achieves those ends with a knock-out punch. What floored me, though, was that Tim was writing some of the songs. I knew him as a gripping singer, a breath-taking musician, and then, here he stood as a classic songwriter, blending seamlessly with traditional songs that had been handed down for centuries. I never looked back. Tim O'Brien's work is vastly important to the future history of American music. The Crossing was a turning point for me in understanding that.

Crisp & Tight yet Relaxed. He's singing to you.

You want this one. One of the best manolin players strays into some Irish influences and produces a masterpiece. What a deal for the whole album.

A Spectacular Recording

One of the finest concerts I've ever heard was Tim O'Brien and the original crew that recorded this CD on their tour. Have you heard Tim O'Brien before? Then buy this recording. You won't be disappointed. If you haven't heard Tim before, this is a great start to undertstand the depth of this artist. Bluegrass, Celtic, American Folk, mandolin, fiddle, guitar, original or cover song, whatever, he plays it and rips it up. Tim is one of the greatest modern American acoustic performers, and this recording shows why. I never tire of listening to him sing and play. I'm sure you won't either. If you need to listen to something to understand this CD, try out a clip of "A Mountaineer Is Always Free." Perhaps as good a song about the American experience as ever written. Enjoy.

Biography

Born: March 16, 1954 in Wheeling, WV

Genre: Country

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

Tim O'Brien is one of the spearheads of contemporary bluegrass. As co- founder and lead vocalist of Hot Rize and Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers, O'Brien served as a bridge between the traditional sounds of the hill country and the modern styles of bluegrass in the 1980s. Since the band's breakup, O'Brien has continued to expand the music's borders as a soloist, a duo partner with his sister Mollie, and with his band, the...
Full Bio

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