The Unbroken Circle: The Musical Heritage of the Carter Family

The Unbroken Circle: The Musical Heritage of the Carter Family

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The Unbroken Circle: The Musical Heritage of the Carter Family 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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The greatest of American songbooks gets another run-through from a variety of country music luminaries, and the results, unsurprisingly, are very good. In addition to four Cashes (Johnny, June Carter, Roseanne and producer John Carter), the album sports tracks from George Jones, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Ricky Skaggs, and many others. Like most such collections, it's not uniformly fine (nor, even in its fineness, uniform in how it achieves its quality), but there's a lot of great music here. ¶ Jones kicks off the album with a wonderfully loose take of "Worried Man Blues," buoyed by a deft, bluesy combination of guitars, bass, fiddle and drums. Sheryl Crow follows with over-the-top yowling on "No Depression in Heaven," and Emmylou Harris warbles somewhat unsteadily with the charming Peasall Sisters for "On the Sea of Galilee." From here, the album picks up with Johnny Cash's nearly-spent reading of "Engine One-Forty-Three" and really hits its stride with Marty Stuart's creepy march-time arrangement of "Never Let the Devil Get the Upper Hand on You." ¶ Additional highlights include Norman and Nancy Blake's string-rich (guitar, cello, bouzouki, fiddle, autoharp) "Black Jack David," John Prine's acoustic rockabilly "Bear Creek Blues," The Whites' (with Ricky Skaggs) "Will My Mother Know Me There," and Roseanne Cash's "The Winding Stream." Kris Kristofferson and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's close the album with "Gold Watch and Chain," successfully pitting the former's craggy voice against the latter's polished acoustic picking and smooth harmonies. ¶ These aren't definitive renditions (for that, original Carter Family recordings can be found), but like the Dirt Band's "Circle" albums, the reinvention and handing-down found among and between these generations say as much about the music as the songs themselves.