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American Balladry

Nat Allister
A review of "Black water rose" by Tom Thebeau
Written January 24th, 2017, 10:50 am by

Nat Allister FROM Fox & Beggar Theater Inc.

SongLadder Editor
"Black Water Rose" has a lonesome, ancient, Anglo-Americana sound that reminds me of Townes Van Zandt's "Our Mother the Mountain" (one of my absolute favorites, by the way). The song is relatively simple, with just a few basic guitar chords and a melody that stays within a narrow range. But this song is lyric-driven, and the songwriting is where the artistry shines. The adoption of traditional Anglo-Celtic motifs into the music of New England and the Appalachians in the 19th century has got to be one of the great blossomings of folk music... something about the fusion of American, working class grit with the timeless themes of old English balladry. And "Black Water Rose" is a great example of the continued survival of this tradition. "Reckless beauty, wildflower, black water rose" sounds like a line from a Richard Thompson song, but sung by a voice as American as Eddie Vedder. Fans of this style might agree that this song demands at least two or three listens; I got something new out of it every time.

"Black water rose" is reminiscent of well-known artists such as

Townes Van Zandt, Richard Thompson, Eddie Vedder

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