Favorite

Ralph Stanley & Friends 

Clinch Mountain Sweethearts (Rebel)

Imagine being defined by your voice all your life and then discovering that your voice is gone. At some point, all singers who keep at it long enough have to face this inevitability and make a choice: keep singing as they always have and accept that their vocals will never again be as physically or emotionally powerful as before, or change their singing style to accommodate the limitations of their new voices.

This is an artistic predicament that could literally leave a singer breathless. Just ask mountain music patriarch Ralph Stanley. After close to 75 years of smoky clubs and constant use, Stanley's gale-force tenor has certainly been tamed. However, it's still strong enough to knock your hat off, especially when there are enough pauses between phrases for Stanley to get a running start.

On Clinch Mountain Sweethearts, Stanley teams up with 16 female country singers. A few are dealing with altered voices themselves (sometimes for the better -- Maria Muldaur and Joan Baez have never sounded so soulful), while others are in their vocal prime (including Gillian Welch, Pam Tillis, Sara Evans, and Lucinda Williams). Stanley shines, regardless of the partner. His haunting tone might be raspy with age, but it's also more textured. And when he raises his voice in pleading harmony with Iris DeMent's bittersweet twang on two numbers, it reminds the listener that distinctive singers such as Stanley possess a numinous tone that even time can have trouble dimming.

More by David Cantwell

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

Staff Pick Events

  • John Cleese and the Holy Grail @ Akron Civic Theatre

    • Sat., Dec. 10
  • Cleveland Orchestra Christmas Concert @ Severance Hall

    • Sat., Dec. 10
  • John Evans @ Pickwick & Frolic/Hilarities East 4th

    • Sun., Dec. 11

© 2016 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation