American folk music has served as a storytelling and history preserving mechanism for generation. Its subcategories, including bluegrass, wistfully conjure up memories of mountain ridges, shady brooks, and running through the forest with your friends.
Red Yarn (aka Andy Furgeson), the roots revivalist/puppeteer (look up that hyphenate on LinkedIn) returns with BORN IN THE DEEP WOODS, his fourth CD and the conclusion of his Deep Woods song cycle trilogy. The CD chronicles music recorded during the pregnancy of his wife, Jessie Eller-Isaacs, of the couple's second child. Thus the presence of "Little Baby Born Today" and "Old Black Dog," which ends with the lyrics:
Big boogerman come flying 'cross the meadow
Swallows the world in his deep dark shadow
"Go away man, go away, man"
He can't have my baby
Cuz mama loves you...
BORN IN THE DEEP WOODS mixes six original songs with six covers of traditional songs, all presented in new arrangements with a first-rate ensemble of musicians, including multi-instrumentalist Dean Jones (tho not the album's producer). The CD was helmed by Adam Selzer, whose credits are a laundry list that includes Peter Buck (R.E.M.), the Decemberists, and John Wesley Harding. I would urge getting a hardcopy of the CD, which comes with full artwork and illustrations by Ryan Bruce.
Red Yarn infuses BORN IN THE DEEP WOODS with a harder edged sound than his past releases. There's more of a southern rock influence and guitar sound on "Born Again" (Allman Brothers) and "Old Mother Goose" (Black Crowes). Perhaps Andy wanted some more modern dance numbers to play at his concerts. But they are a welcome diversion from the somber reverence attributed to "Birdies' Ball" and "Leatherwing Bat."
Inclusion is a familiar refrain around the world, and children's music is no exception. American folk music is part of this country's frontier history. Red Yarn is on a quest to make sure root revival music doesn't become mired in amber, permanently crystalized and never explored. He has invested much time and passion into a deep dive to bring the past present, to make music for the future, his own progeny first and foremost. Dare you come for a run through the forest, by the crook, in the shadow of the mountains? If you do, be sure to bring the kids.
BORN IN THE DEEP WOODS is available March 10 from Red Yarn's website, Amazon, iTunes, and Bandcamp.
Here is a teaser video for Red Yarn's song "Born in the Deep Woods,":