Our UK correspondent, Richard F. Thompson, shares this review.
Claire Lynch has recorded five CDs for the Rounder label previously. The latest, Crowd Favorites (Rounder 0600), consists of several songs in a ‘best of’ collection that in typical fashion these days includes a few new recordings – in this instance, four out of a total of 14 tracks.
Ms. Lynch is a very talented singer with a distinctive voice that is so well suited to the bluegrass, jazz, folk and swing numbers found throughout this album. The evocative and pensive The Day That Lester Died captures an historic incident that is so momentous; the song cleverly relates what the writer/singer was doing at the time. A JFK moment! Other highlights are the swinging Fallin’ In Love and the up-tempo If Wishes Were Horses a great bluegrass reading of a Gretchen Peters song.
Six of the songs were written by Claire Lynch, albeit often with others, the jazzy Jealousy and at the other extreme, Friends For A Lifetime, a loving expression of hope for a long-lasting mother-child relationship, are just two examples of those top quality songs.
At eight minutes long, the original arrangement for Wabash Cannonball, is just as much a showcase for Jim Hurst’s exceptional guitar playing and for Missy Raines’ bass soloing as it is for Ms. Lynch’s vocals. Contrastingly, there’s a noticeably fuller sound to Silver And Gold and Sweethearts Darlin’ Of Mine, both from the same CD originally.
Three of the new recordings are re-done versions of songs from Lynch’s time as a member of Front Porch String Band. Being based in Alabama for much of her life it is natural that Ms. Lynch should write and sing about Hills Of Alabam. Another piece of the Deep South is heralded in Kennesaw Line, the moving story of a personal account of events from the Confederate point of view during a Civil War battle in north Georgia.
Mainstays in supporting Lynch are Missy Raines (bass), Jim Hurst (guitar and vocals), Jason Thomas (fiddle ) – all members of Lynch’s current band – former husband Larry Lynch (mandolin and bazouki) and Rob Ickes (Dobro¬Æ). There’s some stellar moments from several other sidemen, most notable is the Cajun fiddling of the late Randy Howard.
Crowd Favorites is a good showcasing of Claire Lynch’s varied vocal talents.