GOB IRON -- DEATH SONGS FOR THE LIVING (TRANSMIT SOUND/SONY LEGACY)

Both Jay Farrar and Anders Parker have made names for themselves as unique and forward-thinking interpreters of rootsy Americana music, Farrar with Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt and on his own and Parker

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GOB IRON — DEATH SONGS FOR THE LIVING



Both Jay Farrar and Anders Parker have made names for themselves as unique and forward-thinking interpreters of rootsy Americana music, Farrar with Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt and on his own and Parker through his work in Varnaline. Last year, the two crossed paths and laid down Death Songs for the Living, a stunning collection of classic Folk/Blues/Country ballads brought back to vividly melancholy life by a pair of modern Folk masters. Just because the album's only participants are Farrar and Parker, don't mistake Death Songs for some bare-bones, antique re-creation. The duo uses the full range of instrumentation at their command (shambling acoustic guitars, atmospheric electrics, Gospel-touched keys, sonorous basses and mournful harmonicas). As for the songs themselves, the album is aptly named, a set of American classics that deal with the end of life, from Carter Stanley's "Wayside Tavern" to Stephen Foster's "Hard Times" to A.J. Buchanan's "Death is Only a Dream." Also included are instrumental interludes and every one is a brief Fairport-meets-a-medicated-Nick Drake gem of vibrancy and invention. They're good enough to hope for an instrumental follow-up, but Death Songs is more than enough for now. After all, how long do any of us really have left? (BB) Grade: A

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