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LENA HUGHES

QUEEN OF THE FLAT TOP GUITAR

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Tompkins Square (TSQ2813)

Pearly Dew, Under The Double Eagle, Letter Edged In Black, Blue Heaven, Galloway Bay, You Are The Only Star Of My Blue Heaven, Spanish Fan-Dango, Kentucky Moon Waltz, Silver Threads Among The Gold, What A Friend We Have In Jesus, Cedar Brook Waltz

Another superb release from our friends at Tompkins Square featuring some impossibly rare early 1960s recordings from Missouri's Lena Hughes.

Lena was a truly delightful performer of a repertoire of finger-picked parlor guitar pieces that were, even then, reflective of a musical culture that had largely been lost. Ostensibly quite simple, these required a complex range of specialised tunings to play them correctly, and the effect is quite mesmerising.

John Renbourn's liner notes pay homage to the mastery and sophistication of what is going on in these recordings and, being John Renbourn, I feel safe to assume he is correct.. To the ears of a non-musician, like yours truly however, it is still pretty easy to be impressed and swept away. Some of the pieces are vaguely familiar and should  be to anyone who has enjoyed the music of the likes of Mississippi John Hurt or Mance Lipscomb over the years. But even so, it is safe to say this is not the kind of music you come across every day.

There are no great change of pace or style between the 11 tracks on offer here, just minor shifts of rhythm and melody here and there. And, with a beautiful other-worldly quality about them, the music on this CD is just about a perfect antidote to the crash, bang, wallop of getting about in the 21st centuryI

So, next time you think the world around you can ‘go hang' without you for a little while, this is the perfect soundtrack to sitting it out and commune with your thoughts for an hour (something I believe used to happen quite a bit before 24 hour rolling news and the instant gratifications that can be found on the internet - or so I'm told!).



 

 




Review Date: March 2013

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