The Beautiful Old

Various Artists
The Beautiful Old

A host of rock, folk, and country artists breathe fresh life into vintage 19th-century and early 20th-century parlor music on The Beautiful Old, bringing out the songs' innate sweetness, humor, and pathos. Producers Paul Marsteller and Gabriel Rhodes treat the songs as vital expressions of emotion rather than museum pieces; tunes as different as the traditional ballad “Silver Dagger” and the family classic “Home Sweet Home” are rendered in sparse acoustic settings that show off the luster of their melodies. The Band’s Garth Hudson helps bring unity to the album with his virtuosic piano and accordion work. Standout performances include Richard Thompson’s droll vocals on “The Band Played On,” Jimmy LeFave’s aching rendition of “Long Time Ago,” Graham Parker’s zestful reading of “The Flying Trapeze," and Kim Richey’s tenderly nostalgic take on “Beautiful Ohio.” If there’s a centerpiece here, it’s “After the Ball”: an 1892 million-selling ballad sung with bittersweet charm by The Kinks’ Dave Davies. Kimmie Rhodes is likewise crucial with her heartfelt interpretations of “A Perfect Day” and “Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life.”

Disc 1

Disc 2

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