Magazine article U.S. Catholic

New Multitudes

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

New Multitudes

Article excerpt


Jay Farrar, Jim James, et al. (Rounder Records, 2012)


When the American folk icon Woody Guthrie died in 1967, he left behind reams of song lyrics but no music for them. During the past two decades his daughter, Nora Guthrie, has invited contemporary artists to put music to those orphaned lyrics and record the results. The release of New Multitudes is part of that effort, which reaches a crescendo this year, the centennial of Guthrie's birth.

Guthrie's legacy has plenty of room for varied interpretations because he was a man of many paradoxes: A country music singer from the Oklahoma hills and the troubadour of the radical labor movement, a genuine rail-riding hobo and a New York bohemian, a columnist for the Communist Daily Worker and an unorthodox Christian mystic deemed "too religious" for Communist Party membership.

New Multitudes hits a mark somewhere between the Oklahoman and the bohemian, with bluesy guitar and harmonica riffs standing alongside spooky synthesizers and sparse drum loops. …

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