“I can’t stop listening to this CD these last few days. I’m looking for a word: prescient perhaps. It’s as if she knew I needed to hear this collection of songs right at this time. Of course, that’s incredibly selfish for me to say. She is reaching out to all of us.” – Chris Brashear
It’s Saturday, March 28, 2020, as I look out at the empty street. New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo gives an update on the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. We are bombarded with hourly updates on a local, national and global scale. I sit down at my desk and absorb the magical elements in the CD cover: and Laurie Lewis.
I have known Laurie Lewis for many years, at least since the late 1980’s. I can also say that I have a pretty healthy collection of her recorded work in all of those years, and– get this– I can’t stop listening to this CD these last few days. I’m looking for a word: prescient perhaps. It’s as if she knew I needed to hear this collection of songs right at this time. Of course, that’s incredibly selfish for me to say. She is reaching out to all of us.
Artistry is not commonplace. I’m talking about the stuff that’s beyond just good pickin’ and singin’. I’m talking about how an artist, a writer and singer, grapples with her own feelings, her genre, her own station in life and processes all of this into a coherent musical message. This beautiful collection of songs transmits empathy, melancholy, intimacy and an embrace that one can only call love. With every listen, that emotional tsunami keeps getting stronger and stronger.
OK, for all bluegrassers wary of the touchy-feely, don’t take me wrong. Let me just name a few songs for you: You Are My Flower, Ain’t Nobody Got The Blues Like Me, Old Friend, O The Wind and Rain, Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Troubled Times. Did I mention that all of the songs on this CD are duets? Laurie has teamed up with some long-time friends and associates for this recording. Here’s the great list of folks she has recruited: Nina Gerber, Tatiana Hargreaves, Barbara Higbie, Kathy Kallick, Mike Marshall, Todd Phillips, Tom Rozum, Craig Smith, Molly Tuttle and Leah Wollenberg. There is so much good playing and singing here. I mean, sweet Jesus, Tatiana is a fiddler’s fiddler and when Nina Gerber plays electric guitar (you’ll think sometimes it is a pedal steel) the greater trochanter of my femur starts to turn into jelly.
So, I say you should have this CD in your collection today. Pour yourself a glass of wine, go for a hike with your headset or do whatever it is you like to do to give some space for this music. Free yourself, let the tears flow if they may. Laurie Lewis has been a creative and inspirational force in bluegrass and folk music for a long time. Let her reach out and touch you. The last song is called This Is Our Home. Boy, as I look out at the lonely street today, I feel that more than ever.