Dirt Farmer

Dirt Farmer

After surviving throat cancer, Levon Helm’s raspy Arkansas drawl sounds noticeably weathered on 2007’s Dirt Farmer, his first solo album since 1982. But what’s more apparent is the top-shelf songs that comprise this GRAMMY®-winning album (it took Best Traditional Folk Album in February of 2008). Mostly acoustic, it opens with a gritty cover of the old traditional tune “False Hearted Lover Blues” where Helm’s dusty croon and inimitable tight-but-somehow-loose drumming style are instantly recognizable from his tenure with the Band. Helm gives the Tracy Schwarz-penned title-track some subtle Cajun flavoring with droning accordions and ramshackle junkyard percussion banging and clanging under crisp fiddle tones. With ample help from his daughter Amy and Bob Dylan’s sideman Larry Campbell, they turn Steve Earle’s “The Mountain” into a hillbilly hymn. Buddy and Julie Miller chime-in on a closing cover of their Americana lullaby “Wide River to Cross.”

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