Album Reviews

Tom and Ben Paley

Paley and Son

Artist:     Tom and Ben Paley

Album:     Paley and Son

Label:     Hornbeam Records

Release Date:     05/25/2015


For those who don’t recognize the name, Tom Paley is a New Yorker who was recording even before Buddy Holly arrived on the US music scene. From his first records in 1953, Paley went on to record, play and tour with what was then one of the most radical, influential roots outfits in the USA, The New Lost City Ramblers, a loose folky ensemble that included Mike Seeger in its line-up. He also played with both Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly in the course of his early career. Clearly, here’s a guy who has been around a bit.

Now based in London, 87 year old Paley is a multi-instrumentalist with an absolute mastery of guitar (mighty fine picker), banjo (ditto) and fiddle. Son, Ben, is an equally talented fiddler, and both are joined here by Welsh singer/songwriter Cerys Matthews, formerly of the band Catatonia, and UK lap-steel guitarist BJ Cole on Dobro.

Paley’s voice may be getting a bit creaky at the edges, but his enthusiasm for traditional roots and acoustic music remains undiminished. Tracks here include “This Train,” “Little Sadie” and a lovingly, strongly picked take on John Hurt’s oft-covered “Louis Collins.” Ranging through folk classics, country-cum-Americana, bluegrass and blues, this is little short of a rare chance to meet a genuine US roots legend wrapped up in a 16-track album of American acoustic classics.

– Iain Patience

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