A recording of an historic concert, released for the first time! This 1940 concert was part of a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the end of slavery in the United States. Performing are the legendary Golden Gate Quartet with Josh White, singing Spirituals, Blues and Work Songs. The concert features commentary by Alan Lomax, the poet Sterling Brown, and Alain Locke, the godfather of the Harlem Renaissance. Immediately after this concert, Eleanor Roosevelt engaged White and the Golden Gate to perform at FDR’s inauguration.
At first or second listen, this sounds unnervingly like a solo album that Ray Davies might have made circa the early 1970s. There's that same witty melodicism, and a similar resigned yet bemused air to Suggs' vocal delivery. It manages, though, not to sound like an inferior rewrite of Kinks cliches, and upon closer inspection, reveals Suggs to be more his own man than might initially be suspected. Suggs favors far more abstract lyrics, for one thing, imbued with rather creepy images of vultures, skeletons, and dreamy disorientation. In addition, the music is more speckled with Americana than what Davies and the Kinks played, as heard on the enchanting minor-keyed mandolin strums and desert guide slide that anchor "The Rambler Vs. the Vulture/Devils Dance," managing to strike a mood between Appalachia and Tex-Mex balladry. Like few other ambitious musicians, singer-songwriter-identified and otherwise, working in indie rock circa 2000, Suggs knows how to use understatement instead of trying too hard or opting for an in-your-face approach.