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Tuesday, 11 September 2012 07:00

Hear and Now: Stream the new album 'A Tear in the Eye Is a Wound in the Heart' by Black Prairie

Hear and Now: Stream the new album 'A Tear in the Eye Is a Wound in the Heart' by Black Prairie Jason Quigley
Written by Roy Kasten
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We all know the well of American folk music is deep, but it's also contoured like a shape-shifting spiral, winding and unwinding in ever-surprising ways. Exhibit A: old-time music innovators Black Prairie.

Featuring Chris Funk, Nate Query and Jenny Conlee of the Decemberists, Annalisa Tornfelt of Bearfoot and Jon Neufeld of Dolorean, the quintet will release its sophomore album, "A Tear in the Eye Is a Wound in the Heart," in September 2012. For as accomplished as these young musicians clearly are, this collection sounds like nothing they've ventured before.

A pastiche of fiddle tunes, drones, tones, marches, klezmer, clogging, jazz, blues, tangos, singer-songwriter folk, wedding songs and funeral songs, "A Tear in the Eye Is a Wound in the Heart" lives up to multi-instrumentalist Chris Funk's wide-open vision of bridging "Clarence White and Ennio Morricone." The album is earthy and cinematic, giddy and eloquent, melancholy and dreamy, crafty and improvised -- an abstract painting of this American life, colored richly and notably by the crystal-blue voice and violin of Tornfelt. Her singing on the original "What You Gave Me" and gospel-sourced "Rock of Ages" is simply riveting, as is the stirring and swinging homage to the Band's most tragic and beautiful figure, "Richard Manuel."

That song then provides a key to this remarkable album: Whether in a basement of West Saugerties, N.Y., at a campfire in Missouri or in a studio in Portland, Ore., the folk traditions of our land can always become new again, if you've got the adventurous, swinging spirit to follow them as far as they'll take you.

"A Tear in the Eye Is a Wound in the Heart" will be released on September 18, 2012. Preorder the album via Sugar Hill Records.

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