Sunday, June 15, 2014

Charming Axe-Gathering Days

Comprised of musicians affiliated with Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music, Charming Axe (vocalists Eugenia Elliott and Hannah Hill and vocalist/guitarist Rob Newhouse) delivers Gathering Days, a fine addition to the folk music canon.

Gathering Days, a mix of originals and covers, kicks off with a take on James Taylor's "Close Your Eyes"; breathtaking three-part harmonies and church organ hook the listener immediately. The Newhouse original "Beyond the Blue" follows suit splendidly; contemporary bluegrass with lovely mandolin courtesy of album producer Rich Rankin.

Other highlights include an update of the Dolly Parton/Porter Wagoner country chestnut "The Pain of Loving You," Eugenia Elliot's original "Supper Song," "All Through the Night" (written by Jules Shear; a hit for Cyndi Lauper; arranged here as a folk lullaby), Chris Hillman's "Price I Pay" and "One Day I Walk," a Bruce Cockburn composition and one of the moodier pieces collected here.

Gathering Days collects songs (some borrowed, some blue, all terrific) and delivers the goods; this is grown-up folk music made by some of Chicago's best singers and players.

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