Depending on when one became aware of Alice Gerrard, she might be thought of as a bluegrass singer and guitar player, a singer-songwriter who crafted songs that blended country sensibility with feminism, and more lately, an avid supporter and performer of old-time string band music. Not surprisingly, Calling Me Home revisits many of these diverse facets of Gerrard's music.
Songs with string band backing, '50s-era country, fiddle tunes and more come together seamlessly here. Having an intimate understanding of all these styles and one the best voices in contemporary old-time music, Gerrard performs everything here in a manner that is a pleasure to hear. This is the real stuff.
The disc's subtitle, Songs Of Love And Loss, accurately sets the tone; as one might surmise, Gerrard has a soft spot for lonesome songs, and a gift for writing them. Five numbers here, plus two fiddle tunes, are Gerrard originals. That they sound right at home next to selections by the Louvin Brothers, Hank Williams and Bill Monroe reflects Gerrard's familiarity with a wide range of country music.
The backing throughout is sparse but mostly right on the money. Provided by old-time and bluegrass friends including Jody Stecher, Kate Brislin, Carl Jones, Jim Watson, Tom Sauber and Brad Leftwich, the accompaniment puts the icing on the cake, making for very satisfying listening.