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DWIGHT DILLER "New Plowed Ground" Yew Pine YP-1X-4

To find an artiste more deserving than Dwight Diller for inclusion in an organ called "The Living Tradition" would be a difficult job. He headlined February '98s American Old Time Music Festival in Gainsborough where both his stage performances and workshops were the talk of the event. He'll be back again this year, so "New Plowed Ground" should reach a fertile tilth.

The twenty items on this splendid CD not only show-case the diversity of musical forms under the "Old Time" umbrella, they also provide object lessons in how they should be executed. Although he pulls in a sympathetic and talented bunch of like-minded collaborators, there is a strong sense of Diller-at-the-tiller throughout, which is emphasised by the solo tracks where his singing and banjo-playing bear an unquestionable stamp of authoritative authenticity. This man has not only done his own homework, he's done ours as well!

A good proportion of the songs are Sacred Harp or gospel by nature, and we are left in no doubt that Dwight is singing from heart-felt and hard-won belief rather than just the attraction of a fine tune finely harmonised. The rest are ballads, tunes with words and tunes without words, with arrangements ranging from single unaccompanied voice through to four-part hymnody with heaps of wonderful fiddle 'n' banjo along the way. His guests are too numerous to mention but Dan Gardella's fiddle-playing and the singing of Northampton Harmony/Cordelia's Dad are especially special. As for the insert notes - their conversational nature is best summed up by his acknowledgement of The Slater Singers "They're grouchy, but they sure can sing".

Because this material is drawn so close to the source - the Hammons Family, Bruce Green, Henry Reed, the Morris Brothers and so on - his singing and playing styles are not the result of a musical revival or an attempt to resurrect an archaic art-form. It is more on a par with that "old time religion" - if it was good enough for them, then it's good enough for me. It sure sounds like a living tradition to me.

Alan Rose

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This album was reviewed in Issue 31 of The Living Tradition magazine.