The works of Joseph Allred have captivated me for some time now. Each new record unfurls with a timeless grace that’s etched with folk’s past, but swept with emotions and turbulence that’s mirror our own times. Their last record was one of my favorites, a gospel-touched vision that found more of Joesph’s vocal work come to the forefront. For the follow-up, on the ever expanding UK folk enclave Worried Songs, they let the vocals fall silent. Allred’s dizzying guitar and banjo work takes its place on the speakers, carving out an imagined soundtrack of rags and runs that map out a part of Joseph’s history. The works on Shiloh capture the wooded confines of the Appalachian Plateau near the Tennessee / Kentucky border, the region where Joseph’s father was born and not too far from where Joseph grew up.
Even when we escape the small town trappings of youth, it seems its impossible to ever fully shed the skin where we’re sown. Supposedly the area boasts a cast of characters, weary locals, rural regulars, the kind that leave imprints on the memory. Through the ramble of their strings, Joseph lets the instruments trace these character’s shadows. The songs on The Rambles & Rags of Shiloh find their joy, the kind that’s soaked in sun and breeze. They find sorrow, deep and absolute, the strains that can’t be shaken for generations. The songs glitter off of damp morning leaves and huddle under scarves as the bitterness begins to enter the air. There’s a feeling of seasons passing over the canopy of trees surrounding the Shiloh, an endless procession that’s been playing in rotoscope for hundreds of years and will for hundreds more. Joseph’s records shake off comparison to one another with the mercurial shift in moods, while the last was one to beat, The Rambles & Rags of Shiloh is a testament to the power and permanence of folk-blues.
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