Redwood Mountain the album is a new musical collaboration from the duo Redwood Mountain –aka Dean Owens and Amy Geddes (album release date 27th April 2017). Both Dean and Amy already have respected reputations as talented performers and songwriters and both are core members of the very popular band The Whisky Hearts.
Redwood Mountain is a project that is the evolution of a love of old folk songs shared by Dean and Amy, and the discovery of an old book written by musical archivist Alan Lomax –“Alan Lomax’s The Book of American Folk Songs”. Dean was given a present of the first edition of this book and inspired by the words of the songs and the characters that he imagined in these songs started to work out new tunes for them.
These classic Americana Folk songs have, with new music, had new life breathed into them. The songs on this album take us back to a wilder west of railroad men, gamblers, lost loves, hobos, con-men, saloon bars, too much whisky and everything in between. This is the world of Woody Guthrie songs and traditional Americana preserved in folk songs that was so much the foundation of early Bob Dylan songs.
The 12 songs on this album include foot stompers like “Rye Whiskey”, railroad songs like “Railroad Man”, and more than enough misery and humour in their lyrics to keep any Dean Owens fan happy that Dean himself is staying true to his own musical roots. Dean on Guitar and Vocals and Amy on Fiddle and Vocals somehow have more than captured the essence and flavour of these songs. Yes there is a darker side to some of these songs, but somehow it all comes across as a joyful experience. The album also includes a couple of original tracks by Dean – “Take It Easy, But Take It” and “The Two Davies Waltz”.
These are not songs put down onto an album for the sake of a musical archivist to hear the recordings. I managed to catch a part of the live show that Dean and Amy performed with these songs at the recent Tradfest in Edinburgh, and in their hands this music comes to joyous life on stage, and this album captures a big part of that sheer pleasure that Redwood Mountain have in performing these songs.
There are many more songs than the 12 featured on this album in Alan Lomax’s book and I hope that Dean and Amy decide to explore and re-imagine more of these classic songs.
Review by Tom King