Among the Oak & Ash – Among the Oak & Ash

January 01, 1970

(Verve Forecast)


During a lull in Josh Joplin’s solo career, the Michael
Stipe soundalike recruited folksinger Garrison Starr to record an album of
Appalachian folk songs (and a few originals). Their project, Among the Oak
& Ash, takes on a dozen such somber tunes on its self-titled debut.


The pair has done very little modernization of these songs,
using minimal musical arrangements and sticking mostly to simple octave
harmonies.  The collaboration works best
with both voices present: the Starr-sung “The Water Is Wide” meanders
and drones, while Joplin’s a cappella take on “Pretty Saro” wavers on
both tempo and pitch, shortcomings which are all the more apparent in its
unaccompanied style.


But their two voices together are beautifully haunting,
casting an eerie shadow over the solemn lullaby “All the Pretty Little
Horses” and bemoaning the toils of daily life on “The Housewife’s
Lament”, fully emphasizing that the themes in these songs are as timeless
as their simple sound.


Standout Tracks: “Shady
Grove,” “All the Pretty Little Horses” CATHERINE P. LEWIS






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