Today, two artists whose music recalls the rustic songs done by the Grateful Dead, Johnny Cash, The Cowboy Junkies, and even Gram Parsons and Dave Grisman–except the banjo plunk is replaced by dark, somber country.
First, Emily Jane White. Double Negative Records, is releasing her debut album, Dark Undercoat, on November 5. Occupying an odd space between Hope Sandoval, Cat Power, and Goth, Emily Jane White makes musically simple but lyrically complex folk songs that ruminate on myths and mystics. In Sleeping Dead, she sings: â€œI had a dream last night/there were ravens above my bed/and they took my newlywedâ€™/â€™Cause weâ€™re all sleeping dead.â€ It sounds like the kind of traditional that The Grateful Dead used to play, but Ms. White infuses a sinister, breathy sense of menace.
Hailing from San Francisco, Emily is best known so far for “Wild Tigers I Have Known,” the title track from soundtrack of the film by the same name. (Go ahead, figure that sentence out. I dare you.) This is a style of music that I donâ€™t take to easily, but Dark Undercoat quickly won me over. An excellent release that I recommend to all of you.
A more upbeat, and more traditional, sound comes from Deep Dark Wood’s sophmore album, The Deep Dark Woods. I really love this album. I haven’t heard anything this rootsy and smooth in a long time. “Hang Me Oh Hang Me” borrows its lyrics heavily from “Been All Around This World,” and I suspect both traditionals have similar roots. “River in the Pines” is a slow, mournful lament like the best Los Lobos tunes. “Glory, Hallelujah,” is a raucous, gospel romp. It’s all here. Everything you need for a great afternoon on the porch. I can’t recommend this record enough.
On the Black Hen Music label, out of Canada.