Magazine article Gramophone

'1865': 'Songs of Hope and Home from the American Civil War'

Magazine article Gramophone

'1865': 'Songs of Hope and Home from the American Civil War'

Article excerpt

'1865'

'Songs of Hope and Home from the American Civil War'

Anonymous 4 with

Bruce Molsky fiddle/banjo/gtr/voc

Harmonia Mundi [F] [SACD]. HMU8O 7549

(67' * DDD/DSD * T)

Anonymous 4 are retiring. Not immediately, but the American all-female vocal quartet have announced their decision to go their separate ways following the 2015-16 season. After three decades and over 20 albums it's still a farewell that comes before time, as their latest release vocals as clean and programming as original as ever--makes poignantly clear.

Fittingly enough, '1865', released--to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War, spends a lot of time brooding on goodbyes. Songs from stage, parlour and backwoods explore the separation and loss of the war both from the perspective of the soldiers (on both sides) and the women left behind.

The risk with a project like this is one of tone: inevitably many of the songs tread similar emotional ground, and in a style whose emphatic sweetness can all too easily curdle in a contemporary ear. …

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