This one’s been a while in the pipe around here but 2021 was packed with so many releases that this second offering from Durham’s Magic Tuber String Band got lost between the pages. If you missed out on their stellar Wind Machines cassette on Garden Portal, there’s still time to right some wrongs and head back. The duo again find themselves hovering in the thick, fog-strewn Appalachian air. Evan Morgan and Courtney Werner push at one another with an expanded palette of fiddle, guitar, Viola, Organ, Harmonium and more, finding tension and tenderness out of works by heroes as disparate as Hank Williams and Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. The past year was a banner year for bluegrass, folk and fingerpicked plains that lay between, and Magic Tuber String Band were an integral part of those highs.
The take on William’s “Angel of Death,” which I’ve previously shared, remains the highlight here but the pair find dizzying heights on “The Separating Line,” and a bitten desperation in the adapted Duck Wooten take “Wolves in The Woods.” The album’s other delight comes in a cloistered cover of the Thinking Fellers’ track. Where the original is a flickerng bulb of quietude, here the band lend a brilliant hue to its filament. The band prove incredible interpreters and vital voices in the folk landscape of the sequestered start to the ‘20s.
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