SACRED HARP AND SHAPE NOTE SINGING 1922-1950 (4CD)
Dye’s Sacred Harp Singers, Denson Quartet, Fa Sol LA Singers, Roswell Sacred Harp Quartet, Allison’s Sacred Harp Singers, Elder Golden P Harris, Alabama Sacred Heart Singers, Pioneer Sacred Harp Singers, Bassett Quartet & more...
Here we have another stunning set from JSP, further broadening the range and scope of re-discovered musical gold from the first half of the twentieth century.
This time around, they again set off into more unchartered territory, with 81 tracks featuring the under-appreciated music of sacred harp. As usual, JSP co-opt knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides – on this, the respected musicologist and archivist, Chris King, has made available his own private collection and JSP’s ‘go-to’ expert on country music, Pat Harrison, was on hand to compile and annotate the collection.
And I (for one) have been leaning heavily on the help and guidance in the notes provided to enhance my enjoyment and appreciation of this atmospheric and primitive but surprisingly accessible music. I can’t make any real claim to prior understanding of sacred harp and have been reliant on the ’I don’t know about art but I know what I like’ rule. And, boy, do I like this!
Sacred harp is a form of American music that sits somewhere between folk, old time country and gospel. As defining characteristics go, it is predominantly sung without any musical accompaniment, is protestant Christian music in content and context, and the vocal harmonies of the songs are invariably complex and multi-layered, providing a hauntingly ethereal quality.
And from start to finish, these tracks offer a spine-chilling musical experience. The notes outline which of the featured artists were most influential, popular or typical of the genre, but I have yet to de-lineate this or pick out favourites or differences - I am still in the early stages of hoovering up everything about this sensational music and indulging my latest enthusiasm.
Do yourself a favour, don’t miss this!
Review Date: June 2014