Review of “Live At The Freight & Salvage” from Carl Gage on No Depression



Hilonesome Music – March, 2011

By:  Carl Gage, on No Depression

The traditional “Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies,” the intro to this well-crafted collection of songs, lets you know immediately that you are in for a vocal treat from Susie Glaze.  Recorded live in July, 2010 at The Freight & Salvage Coffee House in Berkeley, California the album features five tunes from the Hilonesome Band’s own songwriter and Dobro/guitar player Rob Carlson, three written or arranged by Jean Ritchie and a thoroughly enjoyable rendition of Steve Earle’s “Pilgrim.”

The album ranges from happy, upbeat songs like Carlson’s “Old Dirt Road” and “Albuquerque” to the sad, brooding, even tragic ones like Ritchie’s “Go Dig My Grave” and Rob’s “River Road.”  “Old Dirt Road” with guest artist, the inimitable Bill Evans on banjo shows the fun that this group can have with an old-time melody as does the catchy western swing-styled “Albuquerque.”

More Carlson tunes include “Maggie Bailey,” which tells an interesting and humorous story about an elderly bootlegger who really knew her stuff, not only how to produce a fine product but how to avoid prosecution as well, and “Blue-Eyed Darlin’,”  which gives us another listen to the outstanding title track from Susie’s highly-rated 2005 album.

Mandolin player and harmonist Steve Rankin sings a fine lead on Earle’s “Pilgrim” and the excellent banjo licks from Evans and Mark Indictor’s fiddle, as well as Steve’s mandolin fill in the blanks.

The instrumentation in this configuration of the band benefits from the addition of Mark’s fine fiddling to Rankin’s always solid mandolin, Rob’s guitar and resonator guitar, and the rock-solid bass of Fred Sanders.  Bill adds his mastery to “Maggie Bailey” and “Pilgrim” as well as “Old Dirt Road.”

The vocals also stand out with exceptional harmonies and the beautiful voice that Susie brings to every performance or recording session.  And, any praise I can offer is amplified by the fact the album was recorded live, no small feat to do an outstanding job and not to be attempted by the faint of heart.

The fine live recording was masterfully done by Brian Walker of Articulate Audio and very nicely mixed and mastered by Rick Cunha of Rainbow Garage.

Overall this is another fine production by Susie and the band and should find a welcome home in the music collection of all those that have been captivated by the voice and stylings of Susie Glaze and The Hilonesome Band.

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