Last Forever: New and Old Songs out of the American Tradition

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Kurt Keefner
Aptly subtitled "New and Old Songs out of the American Tradition," Last Forever is a collection of understated pieces that borrow from a mixture of styles, written for the most part by classical composer Dick Connette and sung by Sonya Cohen, niece of Pete Seeger. The general source is folk, but there are examples of other styles such as the hand jive of Bo Diddley's "Nursery Rhyme" and the absurdist, quasi-Cajun traditional "Wild Goose." Connette's originals are less flavored than the borrowed tunes, but they have a sweep of earnest, wistful grandeur which grows on you with each listening. For example, "The Prodigal's Return" is strongly reminiscent of the Roches' ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Kurt Keefner
Aptly subtitled "New and Old Songs out of the American Tradition," Last Forever is a collection of understated pieces that borrow from a mixture of styles, written for the most part by classical composer Dick Connette and sung by Sonya Cohen, niece of Pete Seeger. The general source is folk, but there are examples of other styles such as the hand jive of Bo Diddley's "Nursery Rhyme" and the absurdist, quasi-Cajun traditional "Wild Goose." Connette's originals are less flavored than the borrowed tunes, but they have a sweep of earnest, wistful grandeur which grows on you with each listening. For example, "The Prodigal's Return" is strongly reminiscent of the Roches' "Hammond Song," although the tune sounds a bit like Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors." As one would expect from a classical composer, the arrangements are marvelous. A variety of instruments -- hammer dulcimer, spinet, banjo, a few strings, and the occasional horn -- add color and interest, and Connette's fully realized parts create a full sound even when only a handful of instruments are actually playing. Cohen's voice seems a bit thin at first, but after a while it takes its place in the unpretentious mix. The overall effect is less like folk and more like an expanded parlor music. The triumph of the album is the pairing "Ain't Going Down to the Well No More/Poor Lazarus." The former is a religious field holler by Leadbelly and the Lomaxes, and the latter, which forms the center of the piece, is a work song collected by the Lomaxes; it may very well have influenced Carole King's "Smackwater Jack." The gospel prelude/postlude turns Leadbelly's melody into a canon for strings, while the beating of the bass drum in the central song, emphasized by the pizzicato thwacking of the cello's muted strings, sets a rhythm for the story's inevitable confrontation that is like a march to the scaffold. Although it may, at first, seem too gentle for some modern folk enthusiasts yet too nontraditional for some lovers of older folk, Last Forever is a creative and beautiful effort that should not be missed by any lover of American music.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/24/1997
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • UPC: 075597944723
  • Catalog Number: 79447

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Last Forever Primary Artist
Jack Bashkow Flute, Oboe, Piccolo, Tenor Saxophone
John Cohen Banjo
Sonya Cohen Vocals
Marshall P. Coid Violin
Caroline Dutton Violin
Steve Elson Accordion, Baritone Saxophone
Erik Friedlander Cello
Aaron Heick Alto Saxophone
Dave Hofstra Double Bass
Kevin Kuhn Guitar, 12-string Guitar
Scott Lehrer Harmonica
Dan Levine Trombone, Bass Trombone
Abby Newton Cello, Background Vocals
James O'Connor Trumpet
Bill Ruyle Piano, Bass Drums, Harmonium, Maracas, Tambourine, Triangle, Hand Clapping, Snare Drums, Hammered Dulcimer
Kory Grossman Snare Drums
Dan Levin Trombone, Bass Trombone
Dick Connette Banjo, Piano, Hand Clapping, Spinet
Technical Credits
Scott Lehrer Producer, Engineer
Bob Ludwig Mastering
Eric Liljestrand Contributor
Dick Connette Arranger, Producer, Liner Notes
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