Release Date: Apr 7, 2009
Record label: Anti
Born two years into the last big depression, Ramblin' Jack Elliott must have assumed he'd never see another. But here the folk legend rings in the new with songs from the old, sensitively produced by Joe Henry. Underlining the contemporary resonance, he begins with Blind Lemon Jefferson's Rising High Water Blues, reworked as a New Orleans dirge. The cracks in the 77-year-old voice only make songs like Death Don't Have No Mercy even more intimate.
It’s unclear how much Ramblin’ Jack Elliott really remembers about the Great Depression. After all, the 77-year-old folk singer was just a child when the Depression ended. Whether he directly absorbed what was happening remains questionable, but he certainly soaked up the songs and culture on a deeper, more primal level. He must have sucked them up with his mother’s milk or on some other elemental level.