Jonathan Byrd. Cackalack

Jonathan Byrd hails from North Carolina and Cackalacky is apparently a colloquial term for the state. That said and having solved the mystery of this odd title the rest is plain sailing. Byrd is a jobbing musician who when touring Canada had the opportunity to hook up with a very sympathetic crew of musicians (on his birthday indeed) and in one six hour session they had this album tucked up and ready for bed. With some of The Creaking Tree String Quartet on board, banjo, fiddle and mandolin all feature well here with Byrd delivering a set of self penned songs that that are well rooted in American back porch rustic rustlings with nods to the likes of Johns Hartford and Prine. While there are references to his home state on several of the songs (including a song about the peculiarly named Scuppernong River) Bird doesn’t limit himself and manages to sit comfortably in the Americana pantheon. A song such as I Was an Oak Tree is universal. A minor gem this tale of the tree’s role in history as a slave ship, gallows and campfire is given a fine telling. New Moon Rise is a delightful amble with some superb ensemble playing while Reckon I Did sounds as if it came from one of Hartford’s albums. Again the ensemble playing is thrilling with the mandolin especially outstanding. Dungarees Overalls is a stirring romp that does recall Prine in his prime and is guaranteed to have the toes tapping on this wordy portrait of Carolina country living. The final song, Cackalack is a rousing singalong which one guesses would be a fine crowdpleaser in a live setting.
Overall a fine album that merits investigation.

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Dungarees Overalls