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John McCutcheon (from the album Leap available on Appalseed Productions) (by Lee Zimmerman)
John McCutcheon is dedicated advocate, enthusiast, educator, and auteur when it comes to worldwide Folk music traditions, and over the course of his 43 (!) albums, he’s conveyed that unerring enthusiasm through his talent as an interpreter, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. With Leap! he takes that abject enthusiasm several steps further, courtesy of 18 magnificent new and original songs that convey the triumphs, tragedies, and dilemmas faced in an increasingly complicated world. With instrumental support from such distinguished collaborators as Stuart Duncan, Jon Carroll, Kathy Mattea, Tim O'Brien, and Pete Kennedy, among others, he shares songs from the personal perspectives of individuals who are struggling for their very survival with both patience and perseverance.
Not surprisingly then, Leap! emerges as a remarkably tender and touching set of songs, whether touching on the travesty of religious conflict (“The Troubles”), an immigrant’s efforts to find work in the country where he’s newly arrived (“Third Way”), and a eulogy written in the wake of a dear person’s passing (“Song When You Are Dead”). The diverse and poignant storylines with the destruction of a fragile environment (“Sorry Land”), sharing the story of the Holocaust through succeeding generations (“Second Hand”), a salesman who sales his merch door to door in an effort to feed his family (“Fuller Brush”), a homeless man who may have been the beneficiary of a donation to Goodwill (“Nobody Knows”), and the dignity of the Cherokee people (“The First One”).
Granted, the material covers a wide array of topics, but it’s a credit to John McCutcheon’s storytelling skills that he manages to convey each offering with such eloquence and emotion. His warm and rich vocals combine with a series of rugged refrains to make each song so unceasingly memorable they can easily bring tears to one’s eyes. Indeed, there’s not a single song here that doesn’t provide that potential.
Naturally then, when McCutcheon sings 'may we all be touched by God’s own hand’ on “Touched”, a modern analogy that relates to the Canterbury Tales, the meaning becomes clear. And just as the opening bars of “Everyday” recall the flourish of the Buddy Holly song of the same name, the heartfelt devotion to the one he loves echoes a similar sentiment.
John McCutcheon deserves to be acclaimed as a singular troubadour for our times. Thankfully then, this Leap! marks another brilliant step forward. (By Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of John McCutcheon from AMAZON
For more information and purchase options, please visit John McCutcheon website
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