Little Red Wagon

Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Author, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Illustrator
Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Author, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Illustrator . Upstream Records $15 (828-258-9713) ISBN 0-9665740
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North Carolina artist Abell has created a master blend of timeless music from the American tradition (Appalachian mountain songs, sea chanteys, folk music, etc.) and a touch of modern sensibility. His acoustic style and baritone voice are on the soft and gentle side, but he never sounds false or overly sweet. On nearly every number, Abell's excellent banjo and guitar playing (as well as concertina) and quick delivery of lyrics help convey the emotion and humor of original and favorite songs. "I'm My Own Grandpa," a funny hit from the 1940s, features a tuba accompaniment, and the fine fiddling on "Mother Was a Goose" makes the "nonsensical riddle of a song" a toe-tapping good time. Such selections as the storylike, inspired-by-real-life "Going to Grandma's," and the instrumental "Rounded Glass Jig," a showcase for Abell's talent with the hammered dulcimer, illustrate a warm family vibe that infuses this recording. All ages. (Nov. 2005)

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