In Greece, in the early part of the 20th century, two brothers from a wealthy landowning family have opposite views on how the poor workers who work on their land should be treated.
Released in 1971, The Land of Many Churches is similar to other Merle Haggard tribute albums released in the same era, including Same Train, Different Time and I Love Dixie Blues. To his credit, Haggard had a greater need to shine light on the music that influenced him, more so than the need to release material that guaranteed a surefire hit. These 24 tracks include gospel chestnuts "Precious Memories," "Turn Your Radio On," "Amazing Grace," and a great version of the Hank Williams composition "I Saw the Light." Recorded live at the Nashville Union Rescue Mission and several rural churches across the country, Haggard is joined by guests Bonnie Owens and the Carter Family. Highly recommended to traditional country fans.
From Norwegian folk singer and harpist Sinikka Langeland comes a seductively subtle contemporary jazz album. The lyrics are all Norwegian or Swedish (the sleeve notes have translations), and celebrate the poetry of Edith Södergran and Olav Håkonson Hauge – the first a shortlived pioneer of modern Swedish poetry, the second the Norwegian "lumberjack poet" who came to the art in his 40s. Langeland's band brings together trumpet-player Arve Henriksen and saxophonist/composer Trygve Seim, and it's a magical combination. Despite a predominant feeling of tranquillity, the singer sometimes adds an almost Nina Simone-like bite, for which Seim's smoky sound, Henriksen's ghostly multiphonics and Anders Jormin's bass are ideal foils. The mood is often broken by grooves that suggest some strange fjord-village cabaret music, or episodes that are like Nordic Miles Davis. It's a real one-off.