Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow

I Love

Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow

Various Artists

Red Beet Records

Imagine a couple of kids roaming through Tennessee farmland one summer, learning about life and nature and asking those inevitable, innumerable questions to their uncle. Now imagine that their uncle is the legendary storyteller Tom T. Hall who took their questions and his answers, put them into song and in 1974, released Songs of Fox Hollow, a masterwork of simplicity in songwriting. Now further imagine that two current-day Nashville singers and writers set down to recreate this classic album with a little help from their friends and even from ol’ Tom T. himself. Co-producers Peter Cooper, Nashville’s own musical scribe and historian, and Eric Brace (Last Train Home) have been actively dipping into the traditional country well for a while now. Cooper’s recorded songs by many of the masters, from Kris Kristofferson and Tom T. Hall to more recent artists like Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris and Todd Snider. Most recently Cooper and Brace released Master Sessions with Lloyd Green and Mike Auldridge, two of country music’s most decorated talents. (Cooper also released a companion CD titled The Lloyd Green Album, well worth a listen.)

Brace and Cooper gathered a top-flight bunch at Hall’s studio at Fox Hollow and in a few days created a record that is full of such unabashed joy and love of life that you can’t help but smile as you listen. Patti Griffin’s lovely vocals and Cooper’s acoustic guitar on I Love start the record out nobly, followed by Buddy Miller’s take on Sneaky Snake with Duane Eddy adding his patented guitar twang. Each of the twelve songs feature a different lead vocalist including Elizabeth Cook, Jim Lauderdale, Gary Bennett (BR549), Jon Byrd, Bobby Bare (who admirably takes on Hall’s #1 hit I Care) and Fayssoux Starling McLean dueting with Tom T. on the record’s only new track. The excellent core band is well-known to those who follow Brace and Cooper’s work: Green on pedal steel, Jen Gunderman on keys, Mike Bub on bass and Mark Horn on drums. Lauderdale’s vocals on I Like to Feel Pretty Inside are sterling as always, while Mark and Mike’s hilarious rendition on The Song of the One-Legged Chicken remind me of Shel Silverstein. You’ll keep coming back to the endearing How To Talk to a Little Baby Goat with Jon Byrd on vocals and the The Mysterious Fox of Fox Hollow from Eric Brace and Last Train Home. With I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow, Cooper and Brace have rediscovered the imagination of youth and reintroduced it to a new generation.

Imagine a time when your life was one big adventure, with wonder waiting over every hill and mystery behind every tree. Now imagine yourself getting a copy of I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow. You can thank me later.

Curtis Lynch

Playgrounds Magazine

May 2011

No comments: