CD Urban Folk Songs (CD 6819933),
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Urban Folk Songs

  • 1. Ashes to Dust
    2. Photograph
    3. Urban Girl
    4. Broke and Hungry
    5. Clock
    6. Father to Sun
    7. My Gold Mine
    8. Jester Fool
    9. Raven and Scarecrow
    10. Love Remains, The
    11. Worn Out Pretention
    12. Lonely Man
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): ellispaul4

  • Credits

    It was apparently with some embarrassment that Ellis Paul finally reissued his 1989 debut album, Urban Folk Songs, in the fall of 2000. The album had previously been available only on cassette, and the few die hard fans who managed to score one of the elusive extant copies were beginning to wear out the tape. But when he finally released a CD edition it was only available through his website and not through Rounder Records, the label that had carried his albums for almost a decade. In the liner notes, Paul admits that the album "sounds very green to me, and I can't listen without blushing at times (not from pride)." This is understandable; every artist has recordings that he recoils from as if they were ugly high school yearbook photos. But in this case, the bashfulness seems unwarranted. Sure, it lacks polish. Sure, there are a few flubbed notes that would never have made it onto any of the Rounder albums. No, the fretwork is not as complex here as on later efforts. And, yes, Paul does occasionally indulge in vocal excesses that reveal his youth and immaturity. (As Paul observes in the liner notes, the high-pitched screeching on "Lonely Man" provides a particularly egregious example.) But despite the rough edges, Urban Folk Songs actually ranks among the artist's best albums. The melodies in the sprightly "Urban Girl" and the wistful "Clock" are as rich and vibrant as anything he's written since, and "Ashes to Dust" is one of the sweetest and most beguiling ballads in his catalog. The golden-toned tenor is joined by four buddies wielding three acoustic guitars and a mandolin, and their spirited acoustic jams are a refreshingly direct approach from an artist whose recent albums have tended to be smothered by over-eager producers. Urban Folk Songs may be a touch embarrassing for Paul, but for fans who have always wished the singer's studio records sounded more like his solo concert performances or who still prefer his Rounder debut, the stripped down Say Something, to any of the overproduced folk-rock efforts that followed, the reissue feels like a welcome return from a long lost friend. ~ Evan Cater

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