Rayna Gellert & The Brothers K

It’s getting on for three years since North Carolina-based Rayna Gellert released Old Light: Songs from my Childhood and Other Gone Worlds, an extraordinary album of original and traditional songs which set the benchmark very high indeed. The album was a big step forward for American roots music and it almost created a new genre as Gellert seamlessly presented her own immensely thoughtful and original songs alongside traditional ballads.

Now she releases what she calls an EP, though it runs to a generous 34 minutes and comprises a mixture of eleven traditional and more recently composed songs and tunes. For this project she is joined by two of the musicians from the Old Light album, Kevin Kehrberg and Jeff Keith (aka The Brothers K) who add some bass, guitar, mandolin and vocals.

Cover of the EP by Rayna Gellert & The Brothers K

Cover of the EP by Rayna Gellert & The Brothers K

It isn’t until the fifth track ‘Goodbye Booze’ that we hear the plaintive tones of Gellert’s distinctive voice for the first time as she takes the lead vocal. It’s enough to make you swoon but there’s even better to come on two of the later tracks, the gospel song ‘Take Your Burden to the Lord and Leave it There’ and the rather wonderfully sad ‘Long Time Traveling’. For the rest there are some fine tunes, some singing by the Brothers K and always Gellert’s sublime fiddle.

For a long time she has been immersed in old-time music, gospel songs and ballads. She is also a highly regarded fiddle player and teacher and has recently returned from a tour of the UK where she both performed and led fiddle workshops. She is modest about the new release and calls it a “wee little slice-of-life recording”. Well, it certainly should not be seen as the follow-up to her album. For that we will have to wait a bit longer. Old Light was in some ways a diversion for her and this new recording visits slightly more familiar territory.

Rayna Gellert

Rayna Gellert

On this recording she seems to be simply letting her hair down and making some great music along with a couple of friends. The lack of commercial pressure from record corporations or the need to maintain a high profile means instead that excellent singers and musicians such as Rayna Gellert (and others in related fields – The Sweet Lowdown and Anna & Elizabeth spring to mind) can just get on with making their music sincerely and honestly and we are all the better for that.

Rayna Gellert & The Brothers K is available as a CD only and can be bought at Gellert’s website:

www.raynagellert.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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