Own label, no number
1. Get Along, Little Dogies; 2. Charlie Rutledge; 3. The Rose Tree; 4. Give Me Your Love and I'll Give You Mine; 5. Some Little Bug is Going to Find You Someday; 6. Whiskey Seller; 7. Cabin With the Roses at the Door; 8. Poor Soldier; 9. Hop, Old Rabbit, Hop; 10. Bangum and the Boar; 11. Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning; 12. Salem; 13. The Big Corral; 14. The Night Guard; 15. Don't Leave the Farm; 16. Wreck of the Six-Wheeler; 17. The Cowboy.My usual procedure when reviewing a record is to read the booklet notes while listening, the first time through - then listen again, if I've liked it (or hated it) enough to wish to. With this record I had a rather unusual experience; I wasn't sure I was going to like it at first but, by the time I'd finished reading the booklet, I'd decided that I liked it very much! Somehow, Martha had won me over through her comments on the songs, more than by the quality of her singing and playing. That sounds as if I disliked her singing and playing - which is not at all the case - but I found that I liked it all the more because of what she'd written about the songs.
Martha Burns' name was new to me, although I have a feeling that I must have seen her somewhere - the face seems vaguely familiar. Her 'old-time songs' are not the sort of things I normally listen to either, 'that mix of folk and cosmopolitan influences ... that, in my mind, partly defines "old-time" music' - although I don't think all of the songs included here quite fit her description. Certainly the first two do, but I got a real surprise with track 3 The Rose Tree, a Sacred Harp type song - to the tune of a Bampton corner dance! Martha is joined by John del Re (low harmony) and Kelly Macklin (high harmony) on this, and it's a real delight.
The next song to jump out at me was Poor Soldier, a Frank Proffitt number he got from his aunt, Nancy Prather. Sung unaccompanied, in that high and lonesome style, this Civil War song, from the point of view of the wife left back at home, is truly affecting. Most of the songs on this CD are accompanied by Martha's perfectly judged guitar playing - simple, unobtrusive, lovely. It was something of a surprise, therefore, to find on the next few tracks some really neat short guitar licks and solos between some verses - very well played, but never flashy.
Track 12, Salem is another Sacred Harp type song - splendid, but far too short! I won't go on at any length about more of the songs, which mostly aren't my sort of thing but, seeing that I've said quite a bit about her song notes, I'd like to share with you Martha's note to Don't Leave the Farm.
The fact is, it continues to resonate for many of us. It does for me. But the city indeed "has many attractions," and my own contrary impulses are never resolved. That's where my thoughts go when I sing this song.
Rod Stradling - 15.6.14